living and learning

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Research day

Every geographer in our department has a research day: an uninterrupted day dedicated to research, sans teaching obligations.

It's a pretty well known philosophy - think Google's 20% rule, and Atlassian's FedEx Day (so named because you 'deliver something overnight'). Naturally I had to ask Charlie what the fuss was about.

Research day started way back in the 90s, he revealed. The reasoning was that funding was tight and steeply ranked, and universities were assessed by research quality, so research was vital to a university's long-term health. Eventually it got so important that it became an contractual obligation for all lecturers (bar those with rare 'teaching contracts'). Furthermore, it determined your chances of getting a promotion. In response the department implemented the idea to secure research output...sounds wonderful right?

The big question is: does it work? Charlie had a few things to say about this. For one thing, he already finds time to do research every day, so there isn't the time and concentration issue. For another, research day is never uninterrupted! 'Never??' I asked incredulously. 'Never,' he grins, 'there's always one thing or another that you've got to take care of.' Oh crap, might I add.

So to Charlie it isn't that big a deal. I wonder what the other geographers have to say? Hmm.


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