Research leave: a difficult decision

It may seem odd for me to use the blog this week to discuss the issue of research leave at a particularly busy part of the teaching year when research is furthest from many people’s minds, but a fascinating article in the Chronicle as well as developments in my own career made me think about it. If you’d like to read the full article, here it is!

Each institution has its own rules about applying for research leave. Some places have an automatic system of sabbaticals which are awarded for a certain number of years’ service, or if one undertakes a senior management role within the department. Others have sabbaticals that can be applied for. The author of the Chronicle article describes the position at her institution: you can take half a year’s leave on full pay or a year’s leave on half pay.

Unfortunately at my university no such schemes are available so it makes doing any sustained amount of research a real challenge. I am hoping to finish the research for my next book in the next 18 months or so, and then write the thing up. And with everything up in the air in the post-RAE period, I have been told that internal funding to secure leave from teaching is not going to be there in the future. So, research active scholars have a couple of choices, either try desperately to cram in their research to weekends and university holidays or apply for external funding to buy leave.

I am going to go down the latter route, partly because it will enhance my career anyway to be given a prestigious award and also because our research and development team are excellent and will support me all the way. However, these awards are hugely competitive and it’s by no means guaranteed. So, I could be looking at the situation of trying to finish my next book with no chance of getting leave to do so.

It’s difficult for universities without a history of research activity to break into this now as they cannot attract young researchers to come to their departments without the offer of significant research time. It’s a vicious circle. However, I’ll keep you posted as to how I get on with applying for external money, these things take a lot of work and time in themselves but I’ll pass on any tips that I pick up along the way!


About Catherine Armstrong

Dr Catherine Armstrong is a Senior Lecturer in History at Manchester Metropolitan University, specialising in North American History. She is a former teaching fellow in History at the University of Warwick and Oxford Brookes University. Catherine was also Director of Historical Studies in the Open Studies department at the University of Warwick. Her first book ‘Writing North America in the Seventeenth Century’ was published by Ashgate in June 2007. As a long-time jobseeker for an academic role herself, Catherine is in a unique position to understand and offer her knowledge and experience to those developing an academic career.

One Response to Research leave: a difficult decision

  1. How about the the current state individuals economic climate how would you believe this will have an impact on people?

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