Path to Professionalization: Finding My Ratio of Publication to Service

This past Friday, Tammy Clewell hosted the second Job Placement Workshop for this school year. The topic for the workshop was how to build a kick ass curriculum vitae.

I have been working on my C.V. since I was an undergraduate at Georgia Tech and I began applying to graduate schools. Like the characters in The Guild, I thought of the C.V. as a record of my achievements and development as a professional scholar. I thought about what I needed to do to get the kind of research-1 position that I wanted after completing my PhD. I knew that I needed publications, which meant that I needed to do more reading, research, and writing. While at Liverpool, I began writing reviews for SFRA Review with this goal in mind. I considered reviewing a kind of intellectual exercise that would yield benefits in the more important refereed publications in journals and books. Also, reviewing would show search committees that I regularly kept up with the field by reading and seeing things that were on the cutting edge.

I also knew that I needed to do some conferencing, so I did a lot of that. I have prepared papers and participated on roundtable discussions at SFRA, ICFA, SLSA, and others. Again, writing essays to present at conferences improves your argumentation and keeps you knee deep in research. These are good things, and I duly noted on my C.V.

Since returning to academia in 2002, even before I had decided on my current career path, I began offering my labor and expertise in service positions. The most important of these landed on my C.V. in the proper place, but it was at the job placement workshop that I began to question how much time I had invested in service roles including those that didn’t make the C.V. cut.

One of the recommendations that I received at the workshop had to do with organizing the service category of my C.V., and in particular, one of the commenters said that I had done a lot of service. Additionally, I was warned against presenting myself as the kind of person who does all of the grunt work. By moving things around, I believe that I can streamline my C.V. in this regard, but this comment made me pause to think about how much work I have done for others at the cost of working on things that I really need to focus on right now: publications and dissertation.

What I come to realize is that there are some really important service things that I do want to pursue: namely, Vice President of the SFRA. I feel that I can do something good for the organization while also giving me the experience of helping run an international academic organization (so, please vote Ellis!).

There are other things that are rewarding, but they take a lot of time away from the writing that I need to focus on as I finish my PhD. I will have to transition out of these commitments in the future, so that I can devote that time to getting another publication sent out and more pages of my dissertation completed.

The lesson to take away from this is to remember to make a ratio of publications, conferencing, and service that fit your goals and personal development. It is okay to say ‘no’ if you don’t have the time to do something, but it is also okay to say ‘yes’ when you have the time to help. Service to others can be a rewarding, enjoyable, and challenging opportunity, but you have to make sure that you take care of yourself before committing to it.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.