The question which forms the topic of this piece is of particular interest to institutions who are not just classified as 'teaching-focus' but has an embedded culture of teaching. That is, it is 'felt and understood' that 'teaching is our bread and butter' and is fundamental to institutional identity.
This, however, can be problematic for staff in such an institution who wish to engage in research but remain true to their love for teaching, the culture of the institution and ensure that the students' experience is not adversely affected. Here then are a few suggestions on how institutions could resolve this seeming dilemma. These must of necessity be pitched at the levels of practicality and policy.
Suggestion 1: The institution should adopt a collaborative approach where groups of staff or individuals engage with various aspects of a research project. Groups or individuals could be engaged in the research literature search and review, data collection, data analysis and report writing and presentation. However, for this to work, staff involved must be encouraged to devote a little time every day to the aspect of the research for which they are responsible.
The advantages of a collaborative approach are that it ensures that staff or individuals are not burdened with undertaking all aspects of the research project and also enable them to continue regular teaching involvement.
Suggestion 2: The institution could allow staff to adjust teaching load and methods. For staff wishing to participate, double teaching load during one-quarter so that they have at least one-quarter free for research activities. They could be encouraged to engage in research during the term that teaching is less or during the summer breaks. The staff could also build a teaching library of videos, class activities, and presentations that can be drawn upon if they become unexpectedly overwhelmed by research and related demands.
Suggestion: There is the need to make policy changes to facilitate and encourage research. This may involve restructuring teaching policies to include time for research. Setting a part-time for staff to have research meeting times and to teach reduce hours. In traditional academic roles, this includes 40% research, 40% teaching and 20% service and leadership.
This is a challenging task for the leadership and several factors such as financial resources, availability of faculty and institutional culture must be considered when making such a strategic policy decision. A strong institutional support in the form of leadership, guidance and resource allocation are keys for this to happen.
Base on personal experience, these suggestions worked in various institutions of which I was a part. However, what was critical to their success was the 'political will' and fortitude of a few key people in leadership who were willing to wrestle, argue for, implement and evaluate these suggestions. The evaluation process especially proved invaluable. This was so because it was used to improve and tailor the suggestions according to internal and external occurrences.
Completing a thesis or dissertation is quite an achievement and you must be commended for doing so. Your dissertation, however, will be placed on a University library shelf and/or in a repository with thousands of others so that future research students can peruse and use it as a guide for their own. While this is useful to future researchers, your ideas should be shared widely with others in your field. This is important because you have spent hours, days and months and even years thinking, analysing, writing, rewriting and reflecting on your chosen topic which now makes you and expertise in that area with something worth saying. You can share and should share this knowledge by publishing a paper or two from your dissertation in an academic journal. Here are some tips on how to do so successfully.
Tip 1: Craft your article well. This is arguably the most common reason for rejection. The fact that your dissertation has been accepted by your institution or you have 'passed' the dissertation phase is an indication of your ability to write an academic piece according to academic conventions. While this is the case check your paper for incorrect grammar, misspellings, unintelligible tables, typographical errors and poorly structured sentences. In short, have your paper thoroughly proofread.
Tip 2: Select an appropriate Journal. Check the aims and scope of the Journal to ascertain if they publish articles in the area you have researched. If your article incorporates two or more disciplines or if you are unsure of its suitability send either the abstract or full paper first to the journal editor(s) for perusal and advice on suitability. This reduces the chances of rejection because you would have been informed of its suitability or not, by the editor. This is also important because most of the time the final decision to publish or not resides with the editor who would have been a little familiar with your work which could be to your advantage.
Tip 3: Make your article relevant to its audience. Ensure that the topic you have written on is filling a literary gap, generally or a gap in a topic of interest, or answering a current question, or saying something new to the journal readers. Also, ensure that your work will not be too technical or basic for the readers of the journal by looking at samples of works published in your chosen journal.
Tip 4: Tailor your paper to fit your chosen journal style and specifications. Check and adhere to word count and the number of pages stipulated; style and citation of references (MLA, APA); writing conventions-some Journals want writers to extricate themselves from the text, no personal pronouns, I, my, me. Check carefully any also supplemental material for your research work. Use current reference those in the last 10 years preferably and adhere to required format, for example, 12 font, Arial or Times Roman, paragraphing direct quotations and indentations.
Tip 5: Submit the paper as stipulated. Carefully follow the journal's instructions for submitting articles. This is normally done via an online portal to which you must create an account.
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