What does a history lecturer actually do all week?

Our second year students have an assignment that involves finding out what their lecturers do. It is a surprise perhaps to many that we do a lot more than just stand behind a podium lecturing. I think we should set this assignment in their first term of their first year, so they all realise that we do a lot more than teach.

Here's the response I briefly gave via email:

Student's question: 1. What is involved in the historical profession?

My job involves about 6 different aspects, which I balance with varying levels of competency:

a) historical research - working in the archives and libraries to write books and articles - we have to produce at least 4 articles/books every 5 years for the Research Excellence Framework, which decides how much funding universities get according to the quality of their research. During semester time, I try to spend about one day a week in the archives/library, and evenings and weekends writing and doing online research. During the "holidays" I will try to spend at least 5 days a week writing and researching. In fact I probably work harder during the summer break because my research is up North, and I have to get everything done in the archives before I go home. I'm also trying to learn new technologies in my 'spare time' too - including Geographic Information Systems for mapping, and Python for coding.

b) teaching - lectures, seminars, workshops, supervising students doing dissertations and PhD theses, marking, planning modules etc. I guess this category also covers giving seminar papers and lectures to other universities and societies, which I do perhaps a couple of times per semester. Perhaps I would also include the pastoral responsibilities we have for students under this category - being a personal tutor, directing students to the right sources of help if they need help etc.

c) administration and management - going to meetings and deciding on policies, filling in lots of forms, and supervising staff to make sure they fill in the forms etc. I'm now the School of Humanities Research Students' Tutor, which involves more of these activities.

d) trying to get funding - I spend quite a bit of time filling in forms applying for grants for research projects and community history projects. As these increasingly involve multiple partners and collaborations between the university, archives and museums, and community groups, these forms take AGES. After several meetings with all the different groups, it took me three solid weeks to fill in a recent application form because so many people were involved drafting the proposal, doing the costings, writing a technical statement.

e) 'service' to the historical profession, which we normally do voluntarily and often for free: e.g. I'm on the editorial board for two journals, which takes up some of my weekends editing papers; I'm also on the committee of the Social History Society, and I organise their website and newsletter and help organise the conference. I also regularly 'peer-review' journal papers and book manuscripts for publishers. This category also involves going to conferences and seminar papers, and writing book reviews for journals.

f) community work and outreach, for example I helped the Stevenage Irish Network do an oral history of their community. At our university all staff do a lot of community history with lots of local groups.


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