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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 36: Conclusion

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

Iain Hay

Extract





This book has been written with the best of intentions. It is meant to help guide early-career academics (ECAs) and other academics developing their careers in increasingly challenging times. It aims to ease the path for scholars looking to secure good employment; working to meet the escalating demands of their employers; and struggling to find ways of ‘staying sane’. But in doing this, the pages of this book are characterized by an individual-focussed approach: what can you, as a more-or-less lone scholar, do to succeed in academic environments? The volume does not interrogate the origins, validity, rationale or wisdom of those growing demands. It does little – if anything – to question or change the circumstances within which academics find themselves working. Indeed, there is a paradoxical risk that by supporting scholars to better satisfy institutional demands, this book will actually encourage the ratcheting up of expectations by universities, contributing in the long run to even more testing professional academic environments for individuals. But at the very same time as scholars wrestle with heightening institutional expectations, universities find themselves dealing with their own masters’ requirements for ‘improved standards’, evaluated by external international ratings agencies and often made more difficult to achieve by watchful, frugal funding bodies. As a result many institutions now expect more and more of their staff (hence the quest for superheroes) and, despite their best efforts and any of their own good intentions, find themselves unable or unwilling to provide academic support and resources commensurate...

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