I am wrapping up the end of a couple weeks of travel. At first, it was nice to have a break from my gigantic class and my crazy household and the snow snow snow, but I am ready to go back home and get into a comfortable groove again. I am sure my HusbandOfScience will also be happy to have my help around the house again, too.
HusbandOfScience and I seem to do a lot of traveling. This semester, I am traveling for 3 conferences and 3 seminars. That doesn’t really seem so bad, unless you add in the travel of HusbandOfScience. If we each travel once per month, than someone is traveling every other week!
I think I should start phasing out most seminars, but people come back and ask every semester. You feel flattered and you feel guilty for saying no. The requesters come back and ask you again so nicely and politely. So you make a date for a year in advance hoping that FutureYou will be in a better position than PresentYou as far as traveling. But FutureYou has always been in a worse position because PresentYou is an a-hole who keeps schluffing her travel onto FutureYou. This is all screwed up even more because some fancy, exciting invitations might come up on shorter notice than one year causing all wave function to collapse into a coherent travel particle.
But, here is a problem with phasing out going to give seminars – we get evaluated every year on our research accomplishments that help to determine the measely 0.5-0.7% raise you might get. People who don’t travel are dinged because they must not be important enough. Seminar invitations count toward your visibility as an academic, so you don’t want to ignore them completely. So, what is a happy medium? How many seminars is enough to make sure you are getting out your research message, but no so much that you drive your wonderful SignificantOther bonkers because you are never there? And is it really important to travel at all?
Some of my WomanOfScience friends who have new babies are having trouble getting back into the groove of travel. They are saying “no” and feeling guilty because it is for family reasons. Again, I ask if this is hurting their career? It seems to me that if they get out a reasonable number of scientific papers and other written works each year (say, 2-5?) then their scientific research “cred” is really not in jeopardy. I think not getting manuscripts submitted and published is a more negative issue for your career than the number of talks you give. So, I don’t think these MothersOfScience should worry about getting back to the swing of travel so fast, if they want to take a few years to settle into motherhood before hitting the road again. For when you are ready to get back, I have a lovely post contributed by one of my mentors and AllAroundWomanOfScience about this topic called, “Back in the Saddle” you might want to check out.
One thing I do want to say is that I get a lot more manuscript writing and submitting while away traveling and on the road (actually mostly on the airplane) than I do at home. So, for me, keeping up that paper count may depend on my seminar schedule being full.
What do you think? How essential is travel? Does it matter more before or after tenure? Comment or post. Push the +Follow button to get an email every time I post.