Review: The Academic's Handbook
by A.L. DeNeef and C.D. Goodwin. Second edition.
Durham: Duke University Press, 1995.
by Jennifer A. Secki, Graduate Student Consultant, TRC and Department
are a novice graduate student or a tenured faculty member, this comprehensive
volume is likely to contain something for you. Twenty-five authors from
all walks of academic life have contributed chapters covering a diversity
of topics. Like the first edition, this book discusses traditional academic
issues such as differences in kinds of institutions, getting and keeping
an academic job, successful teaching and advising, funding and publishing
research, and standard administrative procedures. Nine new essays address
political correctness, forms of harassment, women and minorities as faculty,
internationalization, interdisciplinarity, research ethics, and the impact
of electronic media.
most enlightening aspect of this book for those early in their careers
is that its overall goal is to define what it means to be an academic.
The reader gets a sense of the obligations and responsibilities that make
being a professor different from being a graduate student or post-doc.
As discussed by the editors in the opening pages, when you get a Ph.D.
you enter a disciplinary guild, but when you enter an academic position
you become an academic. The differences between the two are not trivial,
nor is the transition.
of chapters will particularly aid graduate students and post-docs as they
hunt for jobs. The first two chapters (by Robert F. Gleckner, Duke University,
and by Samuel Schuman, UNC-Asheville) distinguish the types of academic
institutions. Aside from discussing the obvious differences, these two
authors specifically note how the differences will affect a young faculty
member's research, teaching load, professional interactions, number of
university obligations, and private life. Those on the job market will
find themselves immediately leafing through two other chapters that address
the job search (Sudhir Shetty, World Bank) and getting an academic position
by Henry M. Wilbur, U. of Virginia. Throughout the book are tips and discussions
regarding tenure as well as a chapter devoted to the topic (by Matthew
W. Finkin, U. of Illinois) for young faculty.
(Louisiana State U.) and Nellie Y. McKay (U. of Wisconsin-Madison) provide
advice that, while aimed at women and minority faculty, would be useful
for anyone trying to get tenure. Toth, McKay, and Judith S. White (Duke
University) give suggestions for dealing with politically charged situations
and common, awkward situations that could potentially be interpreted as
harassment. These three authors do an outstanding job of providing useful,
practical advice with regard to sticky issues.
to containing an abundance of useful advice, the format of this book is
very accessible. One could read the book cover to cover; however, it could
also serve as a desk reference, not only for oneself, but also for advising
book is directly aimed at the beginning faculty member "to provide
useful advice to smooth the transition into this career" (eds.), it should
prove insightful for academics at any stage of their career. Whether you
are a graduate student considering remaining in academia or an experienced
professor facing new challenges in the University, I highly recommend
this book for you.