Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Collaboration vs. Individualism: What Is Better for the Rising Academic?

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Collaboration vs. Individualism: What Is Better for the Rising Academic?

Article excerpt


As a young scholar near the beginning of his career, I will readily admit that I have concerns over the promotion and tenure process. What are the expectations regarding my productivity as a scholar, my ability as an instructor, and my contributions toward service to the university and greater community? A quick discussion with other tenure-track faculty, tenured faculty, administrators and a brief search of literature on the subject leads to enough different answers that it seems to be an experiment in chaos theory. However, the answers regarding teaching and service are the most tangible. Be a good teacher, expand the curriculum of your department and serve in areas where you can help and are visible. My apprehension comes where I assume it does for most faculty in higher education. What about research and scholarship?

While the amalgamation of information has lead me toward a semblance of understanding of the requirements (or I have rationalized an answer to calm my fears), there is one overarching question that I have based on my personality and beliefs about the nature of scholarship. Is it better for me to work alone and create a name for myself as an innovative scholar who has carved out a recognizable niche for myself, or do I collaborate with my colleagues from this institution and other institutions to combine specialties and increase productivity at the expense of individuality and personal acclaim? Which avenue will prove to be most beneficial to my career and my aspirations to become a full professor at some point in the probably distant future?


The structure of this paper will be in two parts that are inherently linked. The bulk of the paper will be a discourse regarding collaboration vs. individualism. It will be the academic and rational argument for each side along with a discussion, recommendations, and some semblance of a conclusion. The other part of this paper, written in italics, will be reflections of my own personal experience regarding collaboration and individualism. While not standard in academic writing, hopefully, these parts will add insight to the paper.

The structure of this paper is loosely modeled after The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday. In this non-fiction work, Momaday layers myth, anthropology, and personal reflections as a three-part narrative about his personal, familial and tribal history. The ensuing text creates a multilayered perspective that fuses the mythic, the academic, and the personal. While there are no mythic aspects of this paper, the structure of Momaday's work is being emulated. For this paper, each section will be concluded with this personal narrative as a reflection of my personal experiences, thoughts, biases, and reflections.

This style of Layered Narrative was created for two reasons. First, it will allow me, the author, to fill in any gaps in logic that might have been created in morphing ideas into academic writing. It will help answer some of the questions that readers might have. Second, it will allow for introspection on the part of this author. This auto-ethnographic stance will force me into considering my decisions and my motivations behind what I am doing while helping me actively forge my academic, social, educational, and research identity.

Finally, as to the utility of this proposed method, it potentially serves two purposes. First, it will allow writers to share the intangibles of the writing process. Where expository measures can become labored under the auspices of academic writing, the addition of a layered commentary will allow for authors to give more personal rationalizations of methodological and summative decisions. Second, it might be faculty a tool with which to assist student writing. Students could supply their personal understandings, their motivations, and their rationale for decision-making--in text. This personal narration could create a learning tool for better understanding the learning process. …

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