I am the PI on a five year New Investigator Award from the Wellcome Trust. I am also writing two book chapters as well as a research methods book with my PhD supervisor as well as another colleague from my PhD programme. While I am currently on research leave as part of my Wellcome Trust award, I still supervise PhD students, supervise the postdoctoral research assistant who works with me and attend departmental meetings, etc. This means that I do not really have a typical day so much as a typical week. I focus here on a typical Wednesday and Thursday to show the variety of academic work that I do and how I organise this work across the week.
Wednesday is meeting day at the London School of Economics, which is where I work. I wake up early to shower and dress before my daughter wakes up. My partner gets my daughter ready while I make breakfast so that we can leave the house in time for our train. My daughter and I take the train into central London together, as she attends the LSE nursery. After dropping her off, I go to my office, check my email and make a cup of coffee. I have a standing research meeting with the postdoctoral RA who works on my New Investigator Award from 10:00-noon. Today we are discussing two different sets of findings based on the survey of British scientists that we conducted over the summer. These findings will form the basis for two different journal articles that we are co-authoring. The postdoctoral RA and I then go to a departmental seminar, which alternates with a departmental reading group that we both attend on Inequalities, Culture and Expertise. After the seminar, I have a skype meeting with a PhD student. I respond to a few emails, and then go pick up my daughter from nursery. My partner and I take turns making dinner and playing with our daughter. The three of us sit down to eat together before starting my daughter’s bedtime routine. After my daughter is asleep, I turn on my laptop back on. I use the evening to respond to emails and edit a chapter of a methods book. I start reading an article that I am peer reviewing for an academic journal, but will need to finish that and write the review Thursday evening.
With all my meetings done, on Thursday I can refocus on research and writing. Some weeks I use Thursdays for conducting interviews or going to field sites. If that were the case I would make sure to get at least one hour of writing in beforehand. Today, however, I am just working on a book chapter on feminist animal care. My partner stays home with my daughter on Thursdays, so we have a more relaxed morning. After breakfast, I go for a jog, get ready and catch the train so that I arrive at the British Library by 10:00.
Given that I am in the first year of a research project, I use much of my spare time to do literature reviews relevant to this project. I agreed to write a book chapter on feminist animal care in part because it would allow me to review this literature systematically. But it is also an interesting project because the editors asked that the review speak directly to veterinary medicine, and there isn’t anything called ‘feminist animal care’ operating amongst veterinarians today. So, I get to create as much as represent something called feminist animal care within veterinary medicine. The review is close to finished, and my goal for today (and tomorrow) is to write a paragraph on the significance of Temple Grandin’s work for a feminist animal care in veterinary medicine. I have read her work before, but not systematically and not in this context. I have reserved her three popular books from the British library along with a number of text books. My goal for today is to read one of the popular books closely.
Once settled in at the library, I start my day by re-reading the current draft of the book chapter, making small edits and changes as I go. I then start to read Grandin’s book, writing notes in my notebook all the while. At 12:30, I am starting to feel hungry and so I spend the next 30 minutes beginning to draft a paragraph based on what I have read thus far. I take a lunch break from 1-1:45. Refreshed, I return to my desk and finish reading the book in the afternoon. I read over my notes, and revise and add to my draft paragraph within the book chapter. I then re-read the entire chapter, again editing and making changes as I go. I have 30 minutes left before I have to leave to catch my train so I skim a chapter that Grandin has written for a text book. I return the books I have finished, and reserve the remaining books for tomorrow so that I can finish this paragraph.
This evening, after my daughter is asleep, I talk to my partner for about an hour about our days. I then finish reading the journal article I am reviewing, and begin to write the review. I decide that I need a clear head, and decide to finish writing the review first thing in the morning before I head back to the British Library.