Thursday, January 08, 2015
An academic researcher tackles a
frequent question: "If [academics] have such freedom, why
are they so overworked?" His answer is good, and applies equally well to anyone
with a sideline like writing that doesn't pay the bills:
Finally, when I'm done with all of the above and there are no urgent mails awaiting reply in my inbox, I could sit down with my own idea, write some code of my own, run my own experiments and write a paper with myself as first author. In other words, do some research of my own. This rarely happens, as I rarely get to this point and when I do I rarely have any energy left.It is interesting that a frequent complaint about the research orientation of many universities is that it causes the teaching to suffer. Based on this explanation, it would seem that the research suffers even more. It's too bad that most people do not question "how things are done" more often, as this type of arrangement seems ripe for re-thinking.
The utility of that sixtieth work hour is so much higher than the tenth or twentieth because I can use it do my own research. If I work 60 hours rather than 40, I don't get 50% more of my own research done, but almost infinitely much more, as I would otherwise get almost none of my own research done. Given that I am interested in doing research of my own, there is a very strong incentive to work very long hours. It is not that I am uninterested in any of the other parts of my job - I enjoy all of them, except grant writing and meetings with management - but I am more interested in research.
You could compare the job of an academic to having a teaching and administration job and having research as a hobby. Except that the "hobby" is the presumed core of the job as advertised, and the reason you applied for the job.