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How to be an Academic Superhero

Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Iain Hay

In universities across the world, academics struggle to establish and sustain their careers while satisfying intensifying institutional demands. Drawing from the author’s decades of observation and experience in academia, this exceptional book responds to the challenges of fostering and sustaining a successful academic career.
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Chapter 20: Speak

Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Iain Hay


ing at public fora and conferences is a way of letting colleagues and community members know about your work and why it is exciting, clarifying your ideas, and opening up the possibilities of collaborations with academic colleagues, business people and other citizens from the broader community (Box 20.1). Spoken presentations can also support your career more directly. For example, many scholars learn of new work from talks at professional meetings (Feibelman, 2011, p. 40), and referring to the US context, Berman (undated, p. 8) observes that some researchers do a ‘“tenure tour” (giving talks at institutions where prominent people in your research area work), the year before they are up for tenure so that potential reference letter writers will be “fresh” and knowledgeable about their work’. And in terms of more personal rewards, travelling to conferences and other speaking engagements can be a good way of getting to see your city, country or the world.

When you first take up an academic appointment or if you make significant change to your research trajectory, give serious thought to speaking about your work to relevant local groups. Offer to give a seminar in your new school or in cognate disciplines. Contact local interest groups or teachers likely to be interested in your work, letting them know you are available to speak to them. Not only will you present yourself as an outgoing, dynamic person but you may also make useful and supportive connections. You will expose your work to interested...

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