At the request of students, I’m running a session at our doctoral study school next week on the ‘transition’ (that makes it sound smoother than it actually is) from doctoral student to an academic career. It’s allowed me to read a number of articles, reports and guides that are essentially talking about academic labour.
Below is some reading I’ve suggested to students and would recommend to anyone thinking about an academic career or giving advice to those thinking about such a career. In addition to discussing the readings, we will of course be talking about writing CVs, completing job applications, how to read a job description and preparing for interviews. In my session, I wanted to go beyond the standard ‘careers advice’ and ‘surgery’, and use research and the writings of academics to inform our understanding of academic life.
Personally, I find there’s a lot to like about the job, but the research and individual accounts show that increasingly it’s an intensive, extensive, and sometimes harmful career to pursue. I see and have felt that, too. Structurally, the trajectory of academic work and life will be very difficult to change, (although I’m working on it), but as the Hortensii group make clear, there are ways that we can be more generous and kind to doctoral students and to colleagues; especially to the many individuals already living insecure and highly mobile lives.
- Afonso, A. (2013) How academia resembles a drug gang.
- Ball, S. (2015) Accounting for a sociological life: influences and experiences on the road from welfarism to neoliberalism.
- Berry, D. (2012) Becoming a university academic.
- Dickey, E. (2014) The impact of the poor academic job market on PhD graduates and what we individual academics can do about it. [website]
- European Science Foundation (2014) Career tracking of doctorate holders. [website]
- Gill, R. (2009) Breaking the silence: The hidden injuries of neo-liberal academia.
- Nuernberg and Thompson (2008) Academic Career Paths of Social Science PhD Graduates. [website]
I have collected a lot more than this, so if you’re also faced with having to discuss or research this, get in touch and I’ll send you what I have.