Dear BI Career Consultants: As a Faculty Member of Color, How Do I Get My Research Recognized and Appreciated?
Morgan, Joan, Black Issues in Higher Education
PDR. DONNA M. TALBOT, Associate Professor Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology, Coordinator, Student Affairs in Higher Education Graduate Programs, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Unfortunately, there's not one "right answer" that fits all disciplines, situations or universities. My immediate gut-level response to this question makes me feel a little like Obi-Wan Kenobi: "The answer is within you." If you are a person of color who has attained a faculty position, you already know many of the skills you need to negotiate the political landscape of higher education; you've been doing it now for many, many years. Rely on these skills as you think about getting your research recognized.
In her book, Succeeding in an Academic Career, Mildred Garcia emphasizes three main points for faculty of color: (1) know the landscape, (2) know your stuff, and (3) know yourself. I think that these are important lessons for getting your research recognized and appreciated as well. Before taking on a certain research agenda, know how well your colleagues, both at your university and in your professional area, will receive it If it is controversial research, do some groundwork to prepare your colleagues. For me, having my work "sanctioned" or aligned with (by co-authorship) some "big names" in my field helped to legitimize some of my work. In other words, find allies.
In Garcia's book, faculty of color shared their beliefs that they had to do more than their White counterparts to be recognized. This is often true in scholarship as well. As a faculty member of color, your research may be scrutinized more closely. Though I am angry (at the system) and myself for saying this, your scholarship (data collection, sample and sample size, methodology, analysis, interpretation, etc.) may have to be unquestionable in order for the type of research you are doing to be considered legitimate. Unfortunately, any flaws or limitations in your research may be the rationale for dismissing it.
Another option is to choose a more visible format for disseminating your initial work; i.e., book chapters, conference presentations. Use this visibility as a jumping-off point. This may be a way of connecting with others in your field who recognize the importance of your research agenda, as well as a way of getting invitations to do work/writing in the area. This is clearly a trade-off since book chapters and presentations may not weigh heavily in the tenure review process.
My last "bottom-line" response may not seem supportive even though it is meant to be. If you are in a place that does not support and acknowledge your work, perhaps it is time to look elsewhere!
DR. MICHAEL J. CUYJET, Associate Dean of the Graduate School and
Associate Professor, University of Louisville, Louisville, Ky.
Get people to recognize and appreciate your research by getting your writing published. …