bubbles like humans

Time saving: eight top tips

In Australian universities in particular, there have been crashing staff cuts over the last year due to international students not coming. This is on top of the constant erosion of funding that has been a critical issue for too long now. Whether you are still working at a university (you survivor), whether you are juggling multiple roles in an effort to stay afloat, or whether both of these are true, hopefully there will be some tips here which make sense for you.

So how do you find ways to do the impossible? Well, you can’t. But here are some ways to recycle your efforts or find support so that less becomes more.

These ideas come from Chapter 11 of Mary Renck Jalongo and Olivia Saracho’s Writing for Publication. If you choose to buy this book, I am not accepting any commissions, by the way. I just think it makes sense.

The so-called spinoffs from recycling your research, without self-plagiarising, can be very rewarding and timesaving. Here are some examples, taken from the humanities:

From class notes to publication

As part of a seminar series for students, a lecturer in English wrote up a literature review on writers’ groups. Then he held a weekend writers’ retreat. From this a regularly meeting writers’ group was formed and this was run for a few weeks. On the basis of this experience he published a practical article about the experience, mentioning the themes for each week. Finally, after seeking opinions and feedback by interviewing participants, he published a qualitative research article. How different, in principle, is this from developing research from your teaching schedule, or pulling out an aspect of it for further investigation?

From a community project to publication

If you use an appropriate structure, any community based project you are involved with can develop into a manuscript. Structure it around the needs assessment, design/planning, implementation, and outcomes/evaluation. This is also the basis from which you can develop a grant proposal.

From one manuscript to two

You could consider writing an article for a non-specialist audience at the same time as you write about the subject for researchers. Whenever you find yourself stating something that is common knowledge in your field, move that part to the article for the layperson readers. This also gives you the advantage of expressing your main ideas in simple ways, which can help you to write about your overall aim and purpose. It can help you position your research’s importance in the wider world. 

From a small to a larger project

Begin with the abstract and proposal for a conference presentation. Once you deliver the presentation, write this up into a paper informally published as conference proceedings. Add to this by developing a review of the literature or your original research as an article or book chapter.  Finally, add some themes as chapter headings and subheadings and write abstracts for each chapter. Then use this to look a book contract—all developing ideas and using relevant research around the same basic topic.

From working individually to as a team

Combine the expertise from different fields to come together and offer a richer final document. For example, you as a program director have the task of analysing 5 years of survey data from course participants.  With the help of a statistics wizard and an informational graphics developer, you will produce a very different manuscript than if you were working alone.

From research to practice or vice versa

If you have tended to focus more on theory and research, seek out and collaborate with some highly respected practitioners for a more practice-oriented article. On the other hand, if you have mainly been focusing on practical articles, follow a line of enquiry with the assistance of a more experienced researcher.

From rejected to repurposed manuscript

If you made a grant application which was not funded, could you change it to fit any other kind of grants competition? Or could you take one part of it and expand that into an article? Could some of this be used for a class activity? Or a seminar or conference proposal?

From recognition to awards

If your work has received some well-deserved recognition, why not look at the different awards and other forms of recognition offered at your institution, or in your professional organizations, or given by other groups? This involves reviewing the relevant criteria and applying well in advance as well as getting letters of support.

Finally, if you are somehow continually exhausted, you may think your efforts amount to less than they actually do. When you want to revise that research paper one more time, think again. Is it really the beginning of another research project or another paper? You can’t put everything in one, after all. When will it be good enough? Have confidence and don’t let the negativity that comes with constant tiredness get in the way by making you doubt your capacities!