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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 33: Preserve your public reputation

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

Iain Hay


As an academic you are something of a public figure. Semester after semester, year after year you may stand before classes filled with tens to hundreds of students. Your video-recorded lectures may be viewed by students you may never actually meet face to face. All of these people will know who you are: your name, your background, your interests, and maybe even some of your pet peeves. They will remember you. And when you are out and about – especially if you live in a small town or city dominated by a university – current students and past students will see you and covertly (or even obviously) make a point of watching you go about your day-to-day activities. Although I live in a fairly large city of over one million people, many of my undergraduate students learned of my low-profile wedding because one of them happened to walk past my home on the day it occurred. So, if you are someone who frequents dodgy bars, dens of iniquity, nudist beaches, or if you put your profile on an online dating site, you should expect that your students will come to know this and they may share that information with their friends and classmates. In this era of social media such ‘sharing’ includes online photographs, video-, or audio-recordings you may find embarrassing.

Social media such as LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Wikipedia and YouTube present tough new challenges to professional reputations and to any distinctions between academics’ private and...

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