Academic Diary I

Day 1

This is an example of one typical day at work for a mid-career academic. This semester I’m teaching a couple of undergraduate courses, a postgraduate course, and teaching a field class abroad. I’m supervising 5 PhD students and 1 MRes student, and am currently Director of Research and REF2029 lead for the Department of Geography. Today I have a number of meetings, with only short breaks in between. I spend a lot of time in meetings, and I try and cluster them on key days, to leave other days free for thoughtful work.

0800: I drop my daughter off to the school bus and return home to make my lunch. I’m trying to eat healthily. Then I cycle to work.

0900: By now I’m at my desk in my office, computer on, and am reviewing emails. I have a large number to wade through, most of which seem to require some kind of action.

1000: I have a meeting with a student, who is considering postgraduate study. We discuss their options for half an hour.

1030: Back to emails. I haven’t finished the backlog yet.

1100 – 1200: I have a meeting with colleagues to discuss the restructuring of an undergraduate module. We come away with a more coherent plan.

1200 – 1400: I start to focus on reading through a PhD thesis, which I’ll be examining with a viva later on in the week. It’s urgent to finish reading it. Whilst I’m reading I eat the packed lunch I bought in at my desk. Halfway through I make myself a cup of tea in the staff kitchenette.

1400 – 1500: I have a meeting with a new colleague in my capacity as research director. I outline the structures and supports we have in place for research. It’s an enjoyable meeting.

1500 – 1600: I attend a faculty meeting led by the Dean of Research. This meeting is about my university’s approach to the forthcoming REF.

1600 – 1700: I have an impromptu meeting with another colleague, discussing research strategy.

1700: An early finish for me, as I’ve agreed to meet someone for a kayaking session after work. I head off and shrug off the stresses of the day on the river. It’s all about work/life balance.

It was an interesting day – some meetings with a range of people on different topics, opportunities to provide support and mentoring for colleagues and students, and also some time for some thoughtful reading of a thesis. And of course, lots of emails.

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