Sunday, December 2, 2012

Tracking our time

The end of a busy week … one of the weeks I've had to record for the TRAC exercise that all English universities go through. When we do this we record all that we have done over the week, categorising things as teaching, teaching prep, funded research, admin etc. Although this is apparently an exercise in transparency, it's not what it seems. We record actual hours (61 in total this week: OK, that's more than usual, it's been a busy one), and then our activities are reported as percentages, deemed to come out of a 37.5 hour week.

It's no wonder the consequences of analysing these data are perverse: instead of concluding that we cross-subsidise our research from our teaching funding based on normalised data, the fact is that we do our research in the time above the 37.5 hours … free overtime, in other words. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy this job, and it's a privilege to do many of the things that academics do,  but the TRAC exercise does a disservice to what we do.

Ok, so what did I actually do this week?

  • Announcing the winners of the BCS/CPHC Distinguished Dissertation award for 2012 at the Royal Society, and then hearing a wonderful Needham Lecture from Dino Distefano of QMUL. We had 22 submissions to this award (from among the 100s of PhDs awarded in CS in the UK each year) and it was a hard job to pick the three we chose: we weren't looking just for first-class academic work, but also having it reported in a way that it can command the widest possible audience.
  • Preparing lectures for our new first year course: one on professionalism, and another collection of case studies to discuss in tomorrow's session. Also, I do a talk on the “Disappearing Computer” to the University's Global Skills award for postgrad students, and it needed revising.
  • Spending a day interviewing for a new research position on the PROWESS project.
  • Finalised the school's submission for the pilot of the upcoming Research Evaluation Framework: Kent is piloting the process a year ahead of the actual exercise, and the deadline was noon on the 30th. 
  • Worked with colleagues on our upcoming BCS Accreditation visit.
  • Had our first interviews of students for next year. Fascinating discussions with both of them, so I do hope that they choose to come to Kent …
  • Worked with Huiqing Li, my colleague and research collaborator, on our next steps for research projects, as well as the undergraduate project group we're working with. 
  • Gave feedback on one of my colleague's research grant applications … it's looking very strong, and so he'll be submitting it soon. Two more to look at tomorrow, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment