Research in Academia

I used the Carnegie Classification System to begin exploring the research activities of faculty members at Old Dominion University and similar institutions. Using the parameters of public; doctoral universities; high research activity; balanced arts and sciences/professions, high graduate coexistence; and research doctoral: comprehensive programs, I found 5 other comparable schools: Northern Illinois University, University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Memphis, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. From my initial study, these schools have similar research requirements as Old Dominion University such as presenting at conferences, publishing articles, and providing service to the institution. To get a better understanding of expectations across the schools, I have done more in-depth research on findings from my home institution, Old Dominion University (ODU).

ODU provides information regarding research requirements through the Faculty Handbook. The Handbook does not designate the required quantity of research activities, but stresses that department chairs should focus on the quality instead. However, individual department chairs can choose to have stricter expectations if departmentally beneficial. The 11 research activities that were discussed include publications; presentations and professional meetings; grants and contracts; creating computer software or educational media; instructional (teaching-based) research; interdisciplinary research; exhibitions (not applicable to all fields); translational research; entrepreneurship that results from research; community-engaged research, and research activities not falling into any of those categories. Although the overall research requirements are broad, faculty members applying for tenure will likely be expected to show achievement across categories. No specific tenure requirements for the School of Public Service could be found online, but current faculty participate in research activities through publishing articles, earning grants, teaching courses, working with graduate assistants, attending and presenting at conferences, joining professional organizations, and other tasks.

This investigation into research activities was useful. Most institutions do not openly post their research requirements, but faculty members are expected to continuously participate in research, especially when applying for tenure. When I enter the job market, I make sure to ask plenty of questions regarding current faculty research and research expectations. If feasible, I will also ask current employees how they balance research and teaching obligations. Being proactive and intentional will ensure that I know what to expect prior to accepting a job and help prevent burnout down the line. Furthermore, setting yearly research goals will allow me to continuously produce research and stay on track for tenure.

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