Dear SPS Faculty,
As the days grow shorter, the weather gets colder, and you are spending more time indoors, it is a good time to turn inwards. There is something deeply satisfying about curling up with a good book on days when the sun does not shine. Maybe it is conditioning from early schooling, but do you also associate summer reading with being lighter, more fun, maybe more fiction? So then what reading do we do when it is not summer?
I like to think of this “other seasonal” reading as being more professionally purposeful. Considering our status as faculty, and the need we have for advancing our scholarship and the field, then this is a good time to identify the areas of scholarship and practice that you want to advance. Maybe there are some new journal articles to catch up on, or maybe there is a discipline tangential to your main discipline that you want to become more familiar with, or maybe you are prepping yourself for a new research project and applying for the Dean’s Applied Research Award. Now is the time to put together these materials that will be at your fingertips for when the mood moves you in that direction.
For me, one of the worst feelings is being in a situation when I have “free” time and nothing to read. It is horrible because I feel this is valuable time being wasted. And we all know that in our busy lives we cannot afford to waste time. The joy of researching topics of interest and finding articles and books that grab your interest and expand your frame of reference is such a good feeling. You may have a clear topic and then again you may not. The research and reading will help you refine your focus and the scope of your inquiry. It is a good exercise to look at the guidelines for what you are being asked to provide, as in a research proposal, and then what you are formulating based on your reading and exploration of the topic. This back and forth process will help you refine your scope and formulate a crisp research question and all the other ingredients asked for in framing your research initiative. (Faculty Affairs has a workshop on the Dean’s Applied Research Award and the template to use when writing your proposal.)
Now it isn’t exactly freezing yet, but it is not too early to prepare. So gather up your resources for when you hunker down and hibernate inside the warmth of your homes and rich reading materials.