The Hidden Rules of Academia, by Bianca Pereira - Issue #2


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Bianca Pereira
Bianca Pereira
Dear Researcher,
Thank you for joining “The Hidden Rules of Academia”!
Last week we talked about finding new opportunities through networking. Since then, I have been having very good conversations through Twitter and newsletter replies.
So, I really would like to hear from you:
  • what are you struggling with in academia?
  • is there anything you would like to see featuring in the newsletter (research skills, academic tech, EDI, etc.)?
  • is there any resource you would like to share?
  • are you also on a mission to make research easier and would like to connect?
Please reach out by answering this email and let’s chat!
Also, make sure you check the exclusive opportunity we have for newsletter subscribers.
As for now, let us unveil rule #2. Shall we? 👊

Unveiled Rule: Not all vacancies are vacant
This is one of the big fails on equality initiatives in academia (one of many, in my opinion).
For everyone to have equal opportunity to apply for a job vacancy, it is often a requirement that the position is made public to everyone and anyone that wishes to apply. As a rule of thumb, this is actually a pretty good idea. If everyone can apply, the selection would be based on merit. So, why is it a problem at all?
As an equality measure, this loses the big picture.
Researchers are often hired on a contract basis, with no promotion scheme.
When a contract finishes, it is often easy to just renew the current contract if more work is available. However, when it comes to promotion (e.g. moving from research assistant to research associate), moving from research into tenure track positions, or hiring of PhD students as postdocs, things change. The person looking to be promoted does not have a ‘path to follow’. The solution is to apply for a new vacancy on the role that the person is looking to be promoted for.
And guess what happens!?
In the hope to be promoted, you can get fired.
If a vacancy is open for the purpose of your promotion. And the vacancy needs to be made available for everyone under equal opportunities. Then if another candidate gets selected, you will get fired rather than promoted.
So, easy way for Universities to not promote anyone. Isn’t it?
What happens next!? People get creative and start gaming the system.
If the system is unfair to people being promoted, people pull some “tricks” that pushes the unfairness somewhere else. They game the system by creating a job description that is really hard to fulfil.. unless you are the person being promoted. It is almost like asking that “You must have a thesis named X as a requirement for this job”.
The unfairness on the promotion track gets pushed into the hiring process.
Rather than giving equal opportunities, the hiring process is just making applicants waste their time in this instance.
Now you have a tailor-made job advertisement for a vacancy that is not REALLY vacant. You ask people all around the world to waste their time applying for it. You spend resources of a whole team interviewing people and organising a selection process just to arrive at the obvious result. The person who was supposed to be promoted, gets promoted.
Note that no one is scheming to put the person in or giving an unfair advantage. Instead, the person IS the most qualified for the position exactly because how the advertisement was framed. In my opinion, not fair with any of the people applying and not fair with the person who is looking for (and deserving of) a promotion.
So, next time you apply for a job in academia, if you see a VERY specific type of job advertisement, remember: 
Not all vacancies are vacant.
Know A University Doing “Path to Promotion” Right?
I have been in EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion) discussions for a while and the “path to promotion” of contract researchers is always in the list.
If you know of a University that has done this right and eliminated the unfairness in the hiring process as a consequence, please let me know.
I would love to feature it here in the newsletter.
Articles You May Have Missed..
Here are some of the articles I have written recently.
A Comparison of 3 Note Taking Methods for The Research Literature (Or Why Highlighting Is Not Enough)
How to Make Writing Thesis Chapters Less Daunting With A Simple Change of Mindset
3 Ways to Choose a Research Topic: A Marriage Tale
Exclusive Opportunity to Newsletter Subscribers
One year ago I attended a workshop that would change my life.
The name of the workshop was Linking Your Thinking (LYT).
My goal was to meet people interested in Personal Knowledge Management (PKM). The result, though, was a whole change of mindset on how I deal with my research notes. I went from a note taker who would struggle to write pretty much anything, into a note maker where I feel like a machine of ideas.
I loved so much the course and the community that I am now a LYT coach.
I have talked a bit about my PKM here and here.
Today I am happy to invite you to join us.
The Linking Your Thinking workshop (cost €1,022) is providing 3 scholarships for Master and PhD students.
And here is my deal (exclusive to subscribers). If you apply and get selected for one of the three scholarships, you will get the Workshop+ option (cost €1,522) and I will be your coach.
If you want to attend the workshop and be coached by me, click here to apply to the scholarship. This offer is valid only until Sunday, January 30th, AoE (Anywhere on Earth). Exclusive to Subscribers.
Hope to see you there!
Circle of Niceness
‘Circle of Niceness’ is a reference to the nice people we meet in academia. Here are some helpful content created by the Circle of Niceness.
Time Management Strategies – Raul Pacheco-Vega, PhD
Refreshing Your Ideas - patter
What Would You Like To See In The Newsletter?
Any resource you would like to share? Any question you want me to answer or feedback on the layout and content?
Reach me out by replying to this email or contacting me on Twitter.
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Bianca Pereira
Bianca Pereira @bianca_oli_per

Sharing everything I know about research in academia.

Writing a PhD proposal • Project Management • Landing an Internship • Small Grant Writing • Leading a Citizen Science Project • Effective Communication • and more..

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