Applying for faculty positions can be a great deal of work, and preparing materials for submission takes time and skill. So, it is essential to consider what should be included in your application to score high during the committee selection process. As a potential full-time faculty member, your application will be scored and reviewed based on many criteria. This post will share tips to package a well-rounded application for full-time faculty positions.

Talk to Faculty in the Department

When seeking and applying for a faculty position, knowing the institution you are applying for and the faculty already working there is vital. So, it is necessary and can only help you talk with some of the faculty in the department. Therefore, research the potential school and department you are applying for and look at the faculty they have. Reach out to the faculty to get a feel of the environment and energy you may be working in, and, if possible, find the newer faculty and get their insight too. This is beneficial as they would be the faculty who have the most insight into what it was like as a candidate, someone who was in your shoes more recently than other members in the department.

Preparing Your Materials

After talking to faculty in the department to which you are applying, use any tips and strategies to align your materials with their expectations. In addition to those tips, I will provide additional things to consider when organizing your application. Below, you will find different categories and criteria used to score initial applications.

Teaching Effectiveness & Student Engagement

One category to be sure to speak to when putting your application packet together is teaching effectiveness and student engagement. Departments want to see that you have a proven record of teaching effectiveness. Some of the criteria that may be used to score your application include:

  • Knowledge and use of innovative teaching strategies to promote student success
  • Knowledge and experience with engaging teaching strategies
  • Knowledge and/or experience engaging students beyond the classroom (advising, student activities, internships, research, etc.)
  • Strong content knowledge closely aligned with the needs of the department/school
  • Strong pedagogical knowledge
  • Strong knowledge of instructional technology and/or distance learning aligned with the needs of the department/school
  • Experience with learning outcomes assessment

Collaborative Experience Within Your Department, College/School, and Community

A second category to be sure to demonstrate your experience is collaboration. Departments want to know they are hiring a faculty member who is a team player and works well with others. If you do not have these professional experiences from other institutions or jobs, call upon your community and/or graduate experiences as they relate to successful collaboration. Some criteria that may be used to evaluate collaboration include:

  • Experience developing and managing partnerships (K-12, business and industry, community organizations, other colleges, e.g., 2+2, etc.)
  • Evidence of successful teamwork and collaboration with colleagues or demonstrated evidence of college/department service
  • Experience mentoring colleagues and/or students
  • Evidence of successful student outreach and/or recruitment activities
  • Experience designing and developing curriculum within multiple modalities
  • Experience developing and/or implementing programming in response to needs within the community (e.g., continuing education, extended learning, and/or workforce education)

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

This category is one that more and more institutions are expecting to be at the core of your teaching philosophy and approach to supporting students broadly. Some criteria to speak to in your application include:

  • Knowledge and experience working with diverse populations (e.g., minority, low income, special needs, veterans, first-generation, varying ages, etc.)
  • Demonstrated knowledge of integrating equity in the discipline’s courses, programs, and college curriculum and eradicating equity gaps
  • Cultural competence and an ability to respect differences and alternative perspectives
  • Demonstrated commitment to institution’s values

Professional Development/Continuous Improvement

The last category shared will be professional development. Institutions like to see that you stay current in your field and continue learning, growing, and expanding your knowledge base. Some things to consider highlighting in your application are:

  • Demonstrated commitment to continuous improvement and understanding of the need for professional growth and development
  • Evidence that candidate aligns career goals with the needs of the institution

Feel free to join us in the conversation on Twitter at @TomlinAntione.

Authors Bio:

Antione D. Tomlin, PhD, PCC is a tenure-track Associate Professor + Chair of the Academic Literacies Department at Anne Arundel Community College. Dr. Tomlin is also an ICF Certified Life Coach.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

This post continues our series The Smart Scholar by Ramon Goings.

With the new academic year in full swing, this is a time, as junior faculty, that can be stressful. You are attending faculty orientation(s)/department meetings, having informal meetings with potential campus mentors, trying to figure out what you are teaching, and feeling pressure to get your research program off the ground. And all of this is in the context of a global pandemic! Trust me, I have been there and certainly understand the challenges junior faculty may be experiencing right now. Recently, I applied for tenure and promotion and through some reflection I wanted to share four systems that I believe are vital to the success of junior faculty to not only survive, but thrive on the tenure track.

Research Project System

When I give workshops about writing productivity, I typically get asked, “How have you been so productive as a junior faculty?” My response is always, “I think in systems and to manage multiple projects you have to develop your system.”

As a component of your system my suggestion first is to exhaust publications from your dissertation. Here is why: 

  • Your data has already been collected and analyzed and you have a body of work to work from. This cuts down on the time to submit your work for review and you don’t have to feel pressured right away to begin a second project.

However, if you are in your second or third year it is time to start considering that second research project that will provide you data to carry you into applying for tenure. While each discipline differs in whether they want you to write a book or peer-reviewed journal articles, you want to begin this project in year two or three. 

Additionally, as a component of your research system (if applicable) you should seek funding for this second project. It allows you to get in the practice of applying for grants if you haven’t had this experience and even if —worst case scenario— the grant does not get funded, you have most likely written a literature review and methodology that can be used for a publication related to this project once you collect your data. I always believe that anything written can be repurposed in another way.

Decline Opportunities System

As junior faculty there are many new opportunities that will come your way. In order to ensure that you have a streamlined research agenda, a critical part of your system has to include how to say no to opportunities. 

What I have found most effective is to have a visual or written document that outlines your research agenda, and when an opportunity comes your way, before accepting or declining the invitation you should review your agenda and first see if the opportunity fits. If the opportunity is a fit and you have capacity, then say yes to engaging in the opportunity

However, if the opportunity does not fit your agenda and may take more time than you have capacity for, you can decline and then suggest someone else in your network better aligned. I like to provide alternatives (after reaching out to them) because it’s important to support colleagues in our networks and the favor is often returned in the future. 

One caveat here to keep in mind are the politics around your decision for a particular opportunity. I certainly understand how this works and, in some instances, you may be forcefully compelled to accept an opportunity. However, even in these cases always look for a way to tie the opportunity back to your agenda.

Teaching Systems

For most new faculty outside of getting research off the ground, teaching can be a serious time drain. Often we think about the time needed to teach a class and connect with our students, but in many cases junior faculty spend a significant amount of time preparing for class. However, here is also the reality:

  • You are over preparing for your classes.

I know some of you, especially with higher teaching loads, might be saying “well how do I spend less time preparing for teaching?” These are some strategies that I have implemented:

  • Doing class preparation only on the day that I teach that specific class.
  • Blocking out specific times on my calendar to handle teaching related tasks (e.g., grading, course platform management, etc.) and sticking to those times.
  • If possible, limit the amount of new teaching prep I need to do. In many cases I always suggest faculty develop  3-4 classes that they can teach and always teach those classes to limit the prep work after the first time teaching the course.

Documentation System

Having just applied for tenure, one of the systems that saved me was my documentation system. I suggest all junior faculty develop a system that works for you early so that five or six years into your faculty career when you are applying for tenure and promotion you don’t have to say, “Wait, what did I do X years ago?”

During my time on the tenure track I had a few ways to keep tabs on what I was doing. Below are some of the methods I used:

  • Writing everything I did that would count towards tenure and promotion in a word document.
  • Updating the CV anytime a new research product (e.g., paper, book, etc.), presentation, or service commitment is completed.
  • Keeping folders in Google Workspace or DropBox for each academic year and putting copies of any publication in that year’s folder.
  • Asking for a letter from every service commitment.

What systems have you implemented to survive and thrive as a professor? I’d love to hear from you on Twitter!

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

This post continues our series The Smart Scholar by Ramon Goings.

A little over two weeks ago I posted a tweet that stated, “Every professor should have a side hustle that generates income. Our skills are so valuable and, in many ways, command more 💰 outside of academia.” To my surprise the tweet gained a lot of attention and was viewed over 400,000 times. That Tweet generated some positive dialogue as many understand the reality of working in higher education. However, there was also a lot of vitriol for my Tweet.

Nevertheless, it did spark an important conversation about how, as higher education professionals, we should begin to think about how and why we can leverage our skillset outside of our normal job. In this post I want to expand on my Tweet and provide three opportunities missed by higher education professionals by not having a side hustle. And before sharing my thoughts, I do want to explain that when I state side hustle, I am not necessarily suggesting a second job as many suggested on my Tweet, but some form of business that has no income ceiling and you have complete control over.

The Ability to Have Options

I am a firm believer that having options is always an important endeavor. As a result, I think that having a side hustle allows higher education professionals to have options that do not just depend on one job. As author entrepreneur Nehemiah Davis often expresses in his talks, “Having one source of income is too close to none and puts you at risk.”

Unfortunately, we saw this quote play out as college campuses shut down in March 2020. Many higher education professionals took pay cuts, furloughs, and were even permanently laid off. Imagine if you had no other source of income. How would this impact your family?

Having a side hustle gives you the option to focus on your business. For instance, during my Done Dissertation Office Hours Show I interviewed doctoral student and entrepreneur Cheryl Lau who helps coaches in any industry create a side business that allows them to generate full-time income on part-time hours. 

While I certainly understand that each of us works at institutions with various policies regarding outside work, it is to our advantage to think about what we could do as a side hustle should something ever happen to our higher education positions.

Increasing Your Impact and Income

As higher education professionals, many of our goals are centered on impacting the lives of students on our campuses. However, in many of the conversations that I have with colleagues, the impact and reach that we want to have sometimes exceeds the monetary resources available to us. I am not suggesting that money is the only way to be impactful, but I have heard from a number of individuals who want to give generously to their alma maters and other organizations that they care most about, but their higher education salary alone, given their other life responsibilities, does not allow them to make the impact that they want.

Sadly, if you look at job advertisements in higher education many (not all) of the compensation packages do not align with the work and education experience that are required of candidates. As a result, because salaries continue to be cut and responsibilities are increasing for many, having a side hustle provides an opportunity to generate income that can be used to impact higher education institutions and our communities in ways that just our salaries alone cannot.

Building Your Own Vision

As higher education professionals we work within systems and institutions. While we are working to make these systems better, we did not create them, so our ability to change them is limited. However, one of the opportunities missed from not having a side hustle is that you don’t have the opportunity to build your own vision. One of the most gratifying aspects of a side hustle is that you can build a business that suits your needs, allows you to be fulfilled in whatever way you would like (e.g., spiritually, monetarily, etc.), and you have complete control over the processes your business uses and the outcomes (and profit).

One thing that I do want to make clear as many individuals commented on my Tweet: there is a need for higher education institutions to adequately pay professionals for their skillset. However, while we are doing the work to change institutions, I think there is also an opportunity to build our own visions in addition to the work we do to build the vision of our institutions.

What are your thoughts about building a side hustle? I’d love to engage in conversation with you on Twitter!

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

This post continues our series The Smart Scholar by Ramon Goings.

While summer is in full swing before you know it, students and faculty will be returning to college campuses. With that, now is a great time to begin thinking about what the next academic year will look like. In many conversations around faculty life there are plenty of articles around the importance of research and teaching, however service is not often given the attention that it needs. Therefore, in this post I want to provide three strategies that faculty should consider when engaging in service.

1. Engage in Service that Fulfills You

While service is the hallmark of faculty life and higher education more generally, I am a firm believer that faculty (as much as possible) should engage in service that is fulfilling. For instance, are you someone who wants to seek opportunities to improve policies on campus? If so, then engaging in a faculty senate or some governing body on campus would be beneficial. Or if you enjoy interacting with students then seek committees that allow you to consistently engage with students. There are plenty of options on campus so take some time this summer exploring the various possibilities you have access to.

2. Find Ways to Integrate Your Service into Your Teaching and Research

As faculty, especially those on the tenure track, I think one way to be strategic with service is to find service opportunities on- and off-campus that allow you to intertwine your teaching and research. For instance, my colleague Dr. Julius Davis who is the Director of the Center for Research and Mentoring of Black Male Students and Teachers at Bowie State University is a shining example of how this can be done.

As a scholar of Black male mathematics students and teachers, he found opportunities to use his research on Black male teachers to create the Black Male Teachers College which is a program centered on recruiting and preparing Black male high school students to become educators. Furthermore, the program is led by current Bowie State University Black male teacher candidates. In this situation he is engaging in service to the university with supporting undergraduate students and the community while also being able to conduct research in this area based on his service.

3. Be Willing to Say No

Although as faculty we are evaluated on service, it can quite easy to become overwhelmed with service. This is especially the case for faculty of color who, because they are underrepresented on college campuses, are overworked in service to the detriment of research and teaching. As a result, it is important to say no to service requests when you are overwhelmed and being overworked.

I think the pandemic has taught us the importance of our physical and mental health and I don’t want any of you to experience burnout. Thus, while saying no may be difficult, it is necessary at times.

What strategies have you considered with your service? Send me your thoughts via Twitter!

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

This post continues our series The Smart Scholar by Ramon Goings.

With the spring semester coming to a close, now is an opportunity for higher education professionals to evaluate new career options, including entering the professoriate. Interestingly, while there are some explicit requirements for gaining a professorship like securing a terminal degree in your field (in most cases), there are also some considerations that candidates need to explore when securing a faculty position. In this article I share five considerations that are important when applying for your next professor position.

Build Your Scholarly Community to Gain Access to Opportunities

“Your network equals your net worth.” This quote is often used when discussing the importance of having a network if you want to become wealthy. This analogy directly applies to academia. Often many of the opportunities (i.e., professorships) are provided to individuals through an informal network. As a result, it is important to begin developing these relationships. For doctoral students, this can be done by becoming officers in your discipline’s research organization and/or consistently attending and presenting at these conferences. For current professors, your network can be developed by holding service positions and networking with colleagues in the field during your discipline’s signature conferences. For strategies on how to make the most of the conferences you attend check out one of my previous Smart Scholar posts on the topic.

In my field (education), the most important conferences tend to be the American Educational Research Association annual meeting and then a discipline specific conference which for me are typically the University Council for Education Administration and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education annual conferences.

Identify the Universities that Align with Your Mission

As faculty you are evaluated on your research productivity and impact, your teaching ability and innovation, and service to your department, school, university, and field. Often, I see a lot of scholars being given biased suggestions that they should only focus on research intensive universities. However, given all of the aforementioned evaluation criteria and the mission of individual universities, I recommend that on your faculty search that you find an institution that is in alignment with your own personal mission. 

For instance, do you get excited about teaching and student learning and want that to bear the most impact on your evaluations? If so, in your search you will want to find institutions that place a heavy emphasis on teaching. Or if you want to cultivate the next generation of researchers and engaging in the research process motivates you, then you need to find a research-intensive university that is aligned to your mission.

Begin Working on Publications

Whether we like it or not, the reality for many disciplines is that candidates with a publication history have an advantage in the job market. This in particular disadvantages scholars of color who often are not provided substantial opportunities during graduate school to publish. Groups like R.A.C.E (Research, Advocacy, Collaboration, Empowerment) Mentoring have served as leaders in supporting these efforts for scholars of color; however the mentoring around writing for publications is not consistent across graduate programs.

As a result, it is important for candidates to begin to engage in writing projects that will lead to publications in order to be more competitive when seeking faculty positions. Additionally, I began a Dissertation to Publication Mastermind to support doctoral students to turn their dissertations to publications.

Apply and Follow the Directions on the Job Posting

From my experience serving on search committees, you would be surprised at how many potential candidates do not follow the directions of the job posting. And do you know what happens as a result? Your application is often placed in the pile of rejections.

Because of these experiences, I want to caution job seekers to make sure that you follow the directions as listed in the job posting. I would hate for you to spend time putting your documents together and securing reference letters to only not be given serious consideration because you missed a document or provided information that was not requested in the job description. (If you are looking for an efficient way to collect your letters of recommendation, you might look at Interfolio’s Dossier service.)

Align Your Cover Letter to the Job Posting and Mission of Department/Institution

Similar to making sure that you follow the directions in the job posting, you will want to make sure that you align your cover letter with the job posting and the mission of the department and institution. First, aligning your cover letter with the job posting allows the search committee to see how you would be a fit for the position you are applying for.

Second, aligning your cover letter with the mission of the department and institution is an important yet often forgotten aspect of your application. To create this alignment, you will have to do some research about the department and institution. In particular finding the strategic plan will be helpful as you will gain an understanding of the institution’s priorities. With this information you can then tailor your cover letter to these priorities and explain how your research, teaching, and service will support the priorities of the institution. For instance, if the strategic plan of the university is emphasizing faculty research and extramural funding then you would want to make sure your cover letter touches on how your past experiences and future research would position you to publish and secure grants and other types of research contracts.

While there is a lot of nuance to securing a faculty position that I could not delve deep into here, I would love to hear your thoughts on Twitter about other considerations that are important to you when looking for a faculty position.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

This post continues our series The Smart Scholar by Ramon Goings.

“Why does my article keep getting rejected?”

Over the past month alone I have had at least five conversations with higher education professionals who have sought advice on turning their dissertation into publication. During these conversations I reflected on my experiences when I was working on getting my dissertation work out there and the fact that I made a lot of mistakes. Additionally, having previously served as editor for an academic journal, I witnessed a lot of mistakes authors would make that prevented them from having a high chance of their article being accepted for publication. With that in mind in this article I provide three mistakes to avoid so that you can experience publishing success. 

Cramming All of Your Dissertation Findings into One Publication

As an editor it became easy to see which submissions were taken from the dissertation without adaptation. The giveaway was often that the author attempted to cram all of their findings into one article. While you have worked hard on your dissertation, you must keep in mind that the aim of the article is different. You want to make your focus about one aspect of your dissertation and then center the article on that one particular aspect. 

From my experience coaching individuals through writing for publications I always recommend that you take one of your research questions from the dissertation and build your article around that question. With this approach, you have a singular focus that will guide your writing of all the sections in the article.

Not Taking the Time to Read the Aims & Scope of the Publication

As former editor for the Journal of African American Males in Education the journal has a specific focus on exploring the educational trajectories of African American males. Interestingly, during my editorship, I received a number of submissions that focused on other racial groups. Sadly, I had to reject those articles for publication.

I share this example because as authors it is our responsibility to read the aims and scope of the journal which outlines who the audience of the journal is and what types of articles they accept. Understanding this emphasis before you submit your article will save you time and headache. It can help avoid your article being held under review for weeks only to be rejected without a review because it was inappropriate for the journal.

Not Having External Review Before Submission

In many doctoral programs, students are not always taught explicitly how to write for publication. As a result, I see a lot of articles that have not had the eye of an experienced editor’s review prior to submission. I want you to avoid this mistake and have someone with publishing experience to read over your work before submission. In a way that person would serve as a peer-reviewer to give you feedback prior to submission that, if not changed, would result in your piece being rejected.

Additionally, I certainly understand that not everyone has this network to support you, but consider reaching out to your doctoral faculty or connecting with others on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. There are hundreds of online communities (including the Done Dissertation) where you can get this support.

What have been some strategies that have helped you become successful turning your dissertation into a publication? Share those with me on Twitter!

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

This post continues our series The Smart Scholar by Ramon Goings.

“I just don’t want to submit my work because I’m scared of rejection.”

When conducting doctoral and faculty writing support sessions, I consistently get some form of the above quote. Often, for dissertation writers, it stems from being afraid that their chair will give them harsh feedback. Those writing for peer-review publication often discuss a fear of critique from the infamous “reviewer number two” who often provides challenging and conflicting reviews of their work when compared to the other reviewers.

Based on my CV, folks may assume that I have figured out academic writing as I have been successful writing for publication. However, I too struggle and have certainly had my fair share of harsh critiques from “reviewer number two.” Additionally, when I started my career, I was scared of rejection.

Recently in a webinar I had a participant ask, “Well, how did you overcome fear of rejection?” This blog post is in response to this question as I share a three-step process I use to work through the fear of rejection.

Step 1: Address the Root of the Fear

From my work supporting academic writers I have found that a fear about rejection is never about the process of writing and submitting the work itself. In many instances the fear of rejection is a symptom of a deeper issue. Thus, in order to overcome the fear of rejection I have found that it is important to first address the root of the fear.

Early in my career there were three main reasons I had a fear of rejection:

  1. I did not believe in myself as a writer and that I had something unique to contribute to the scholarly conversation.
  2. I was intimidated that my work could be published and in conversation with the great authors that I was referencing in my paper.
  3. I internalized the rejection as it holding some value about who I was and the quality of my work.

As you can see from my experience the root causes of my fear of writing rejection had nothing to do with the process of writing, but had everything to do with my mindset. Once I got clearer about what was causing my fear it became easier to plan for and address the fear (see Step 2 below).

Step 2: Plan for the Rejection

The psychology of academic writers is rather interesting as we are motivated and plan for the success of our academic writing. However, why do we not plan for rejection as well? I have found it beneficial  to put a plan in place so that if a piece is rejected, I know what my next steps are with the paper.

In a doctoral seminar course I am teaching this semester titled “Seminar in Research Writing, Publication, and Communication in Education,” one of my assignments asks for students to write an Op-Ed. During our conversation, we discussed rejection, and I gave this advice on how to plan for it:

  • Before you write your piece, have three venues in mind that you want to submit to.
  • Submit to venue #1. If rejected, immediately submit to venue #2. If rejected from venue #2, submit immediately to venue #3.
  • If your piece does not get accepted at the first three venues, find three more outlets and repeat the process.

As I teach my students: there is always a venue for your work. Sometimes it is just exploring all of your options to find the right fit. As a result, by planning for rejection you are actually planning for the success of your writing project. Again, this is not about writing, but just shifting your thinking.

Step 3: Build Your Writing Community

Do you have a scholarly community who you can vent to and strategize with?

Having this scholarly cohort has been critical to my ability to overcome the fear of rejection of my academic writing. Whenever I have thoughts or fears about submitting my work, I go to my community and do the following:

  • Talk: I dialogue and vent about my apprehension on submitting my work.
  • Write: After my conversations with my community, I turn that fear into energy to write–even if only a little. This helps me to not let my fears of rejection paralyze me from writing.
  • Submit: I have adopted the mantra “You can’t score a basket if you don’t shoot.” In other words, I can never get a paper accepted if I never submit, so if I want an acceptance I must submit.

Based on your experiences, how have you overcome a fear of rejection of your academic writing? Connect with me on Twitter to discuss!

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

This post continues our series The Smart Scholar by Ramon Goings.

Why is writing so hard?

This question was posed to me recently by a Done Dissertation client who expressed frustration with their academic writing. I could certainly relate as I too struggled with my writing as a doctoral student as the academic writing process was foreign to me. Does this sound like you? If so, keep reading this piece, as over the course of my career I have found that while the mechanics of writing are one component to  effective academic writing, having an academic writing mindset is equally—if not more important—to improving as an academic. As a result, in this Smart Scholar post I provide three mindset shifts that I have found that lead to improved academic writing. 

Perfection Doesn’t Exist So Don’t Make that Your Target

What I have found in my own writing practices and those in individuals I coach is that they become consumed with getting their work perfect. Is this you? Have you ever felt that since your work was not perfect that you should not submit it? I have found that perfectionism and procrastination go hand in hand. The more you want your work to be perfect the more likely you are to procrastinate because of the anxiety that perfection places on you.

If you fall into this perspective, one mindset shift you need to make to improve your academic writing is to come to the realization that perfection does not exist and that should not be the target. Your target is, in fact, to be satisfied with the product, knowing there will always be something about it that can be improved. Once you make this shift you will notice how easy it is for you to get your writing goals accomplished and get a paper off your desk and on to someone else’s desk.

Create Your Fastest Sloppy Rough Draft

Along with not seeking perfection, as an academic writer I am of the belief that your goal is to get the sloppiest rough draft as fast as possible. Yes, you read that correctly: sloppy is okay. I say this because you cannot improve anything that is not written down. As a classically trained musician and someone who spent some time in the music industry, I want to give you an example of why it is important to get to this stage of your  rough drafts.

Think about your favorite song —the one song that prompts you to  immediately increase the volume when you hear it. As a listener, you hear the final product of that song that is polished and professionally mastered. However, when the song was recorded, it may have taken your favorite artist 50-plus takes to get the chorus harmonies correct. 

I believe this same approach is applicable to writing. Your audience (the readers) will only read your published version. They will never know how many times you had to edit each paragraph to get it ready for publishing. As a result, in order to get to that polished version, your goal as the writer is to get your fastest, sloppy rough draft as quickly as possible because soon enough you will have a final version you can be proud of.

Put On Your Blinders to Ideas of Productivity

As a dissertation coach I get a number of students who want to become faculty discussing their ideas about productivity and the fact they feel behind because their peers are publishing more than them. To its detriment, the higher education culture has put writing productivity on a pedestal. I certainly understand as it has an impact on tenure and promotion decisions for faculty. However, this culture shift, along with social media allowing researchers to share their productivity, can be debilitating for many. 

As a result, I would argue that in order to reach your writing groove you need to put blinders on to colleagues so that you can focus on your work. Each of us has our own scholarly journey to run, and a focus on our individual work  allows us to live and appreciate all that we have done in our careers. Once you do this you will quickly find out that you are more productive than others who assert a persona on social media of “productivity.”

What mindset shifts have you needed to make to improve your academic writing? Please share with me on Twitter

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

This post continues our series The Smart Scholar by Ramon Goings.

As the US higher education landscape changed completely in 2020 with the transition to online learning, many individuals (including myself) were in the midst of applying for new positions. I was fortunate enough to complete the job search process last spring and secure a new position with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Language, Literacy, and Culture interdisciplinary doctoral program. As you all can imagine, transitioning to a new institution in the midst of a pandemic has certainly been an interesting experience. Now that I have been able to settle in with some time to reflect, I wanted to share some strategies that I have learned to make the most of starting a new faculty position during the pandemic.

Be Intentional about Meeting Colleagues

Prior to universities going to virtual learning, new staff and faculty at universities could easily meet new colleagues. This sometimes happened at the staff/faculty cafeteria, in the parking lot walking to the office, or at university sponsored events. Now that universities are engaging in virtual learning, these informal opportunities to meet with new colleagues are lost. However, despite these changes, there is opportunity to engage with colleagues. Some options to consider are:

  • Participating in university sponsored writing groups.
  • Reaching out for a short 15-minute meet and greet with individuals.
  • Participate in committees on campus (inside and outside of your immediate department).

While these activities take some effort, it is important to think strategically about building rapport with your new colleagues as soon as you arrive. Not only will this help for later opportunities, but this can lead to getting insider knowledge and historical perspectives about how your new university operates. Additionally, these initial conversations can lead to your new colleagues connecting you with others on campus which will build your network.

Control Your Calendar As Much As Possible

I have continuously heard from colleagues about meeting fatigue; indeed, I’ve  experienced it myself. It appears that, even more than in the past, higher education professionals are being inundated with meeting requests. While some of these meetings would happen if universities had students, faculty, and staff on campus, it appears that some, if not many, meetings could be an email.

Since virtual meetings are the norm now, it is important to consider your ability to manage these meetings so that you do not have as many. What I have found effective is to use a scheduler like Calendly which you can send a link to a colleague and they can find a meeting time that works for your schedule. I think this is important, as you can at least control the times when meetings are held and can plan your schedule accordingly. Additionally, when using these scheduling apps, have the person requesting the meeting to list agenda items that they want to get accomplished. This will help you prepare for the meeting and ensure the time is used as effectively and efficiently as possible. Lastly, using a scheduling application will limit the back and forth you have via email trying to coordinate a meeting time.

Find Community to Recharge Your Battery

In a virtual environment it is certainly hard to build community with individuals. Additionally, with the increase in meetings, it is important that you find time to recharge. As you transition into a new position it is important to continue to interact (as safely as you can) with individuals who rejuvenate you. This can be family, friends, and certainly trusted colleagues. 

While the work of higher education will continue, we all have to pause and recognize that  trying to work in the midst of a pandemic where COVID-19 has personally impacted all of our lives. 

For individuals who have recently transitioned to new positions, what advice do you have? Feel free to share with me on Twitter.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.

This post continues our series, The Smart Scholar by Ramon Goings

For many higher education professionals across the country the Fall 2020 semester was met with teaching online. While in the past I taught online in an asynchronous format, this semester presented my first opportunity to teach an online course in a synchronous format. Based on my experiences this semester I want to share three lessons learned from my own practice that may help you as you think about preparing your future online courses.

Use a Platform You Are Most Comfortable With

With the switch to online teaching, I have personally helped colleagues who do not identify as being technologically savvy. Additionally, I have run into many social media conversations about how to use various learning management and video conferencing systems. There has been excellent information about tips and tricks to create a seamless workflow on various platforms. However, based on my experience and those of my colleagues this semester, I find that it was best that I used Zoom as it was a platform that I was most comfortable with.


As an instructor you may encounter challenges using a platform and helping your students navigate the platform as well, and I have found that the more comfortable you are with a tool the better you are with providing directions and support to others. So far this semester, because I used Zoom, I have had few technical issues and if they arise, I was able to resolve them quickly. Moreover, using a familiar platform allowed me to feel more comfortable exploring all of its features which enhanced the learning experience. Lastly, as I describe below having comfortability with a platform allowed me to quickly pivot when the unexpected happens.

Adapt When Presented with the Unexpected

Early on in the semester I was engaged in a rich conversation with my students about research methods when my computer decided to shut off permanently in the middle of class. As you could imagine, there was certainly a quick panic, but I quickly remembered that I could use the mobile version of the platform on my cell phone and within a few minutes I was able to send out a communication to students explaining the situation and then jump back on the learning platform.

With my experience above, another lesson I have learned is to adapt when the unexpected happens. As a frequent presenter on how to support  doctoral students navigate the dissertation process, I always tell students who are getting ready to defend their dissertations to have a technology backup plan, because technology only works when you do not need it!

Using this same sentiment about teaching, you should have a technology backup plan just in case your computer crashes during class and/or your Internet unexpectedly drops. Having a backup plan will provide some comfort and help you to easily adapt to situations that happen during class.

Create Opportunity for Informal Student Connections

For me, one of the drawbacks to teaching online has been the challenge of students connecting informally. Typically, if classes were held in person there would be time to have conversation before and after class, during breaks, and walks from class to the car.

While this has been lost, I have sought to provide students some opportunity to engage in these types of conversations. In one of my courses I have students paired with an accountability partner. For each class I leave 15 minutes for each group to meet. This time is used however they deem necessary. An additional component of the accountability partners is that they read each other’s’ work before submitting it to me for review. Not only do I want students to make connections but I believe this also allows them to build a scholarly community. 

What lessons have you learned about teaching online this semester? Please share them with me on Twitter!

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.