Are You Devoted to Your Research? And, We Have OFFICIALLY Launched. Yay!

Are you devoted to your research?

That’s a strong word, huh? We might be committed or interested, but devoted? Hmm.

“Fully Devoted” was the title of yesterday’s message at church. In this post, I think about (and ask you to think about) whether we can translate the lessons shared to our lives as RESEARCHERS.

The message deliverer, Don McLaughlin, shared 4 concise outlines in the endeavor to depict, characterize, and capture the notion of devotion. (I post the 4 outlines at the end of this post). As he neared the end of the lesson, he asked us to reflect on the following questions:

Is your full devotion evolving? Do people say, “Man! I’ve seen you change . . .”

My question to you and to myself is: Is your level of devotion (or commitment) to your research project evolving? If so, how, why, and is it for the better?

Please post away. I’m really curious to know what you have to say. My commitment to my project and my devotion to my field has ebbed and flowed in the past but is quite secure now. I’m going to reflect on the reasons and share them in a comment on this post once I’m clear!

As always, thank you for visiting and posting, and may today be all that you need it to be.




Attempting to Capture the Notion of Devotion in 4 Succinct/Pithy Outlines

Q: What does it mean to express FULL devotion?

  1. List One on FULL Devotion. NOTE: This one is the ONE list that does not as plainly translate to researching (though I see an application), so feel free to skip it! The other lists are cool, though! 😉
    1. It is a mental picture.
    2. It is an example.
    3. It is an inspiration.
    4. It is an imitation.
  2. List Two on FULL Devotion
    1. It is an answer to a call.
    2. It is a standard.
    3. It is a requirement.
    4. It is a goal.
  3. List Three on FULL Devotion
    1. It is a calling.
    2. It is a desire.
    3. It is a pursuit.
    4. It is a lifestyle.
  4. List Four on FULL Devotion
    1. It is a confession.
    2. It is a vow.
    3. It is a determination.
    4. It is a plan.

BIG Q: Can we appropriate any of these in our lives as researchers? Some may not translate well, but others may. What do you think? Too much? Right on point? You know of a book that says it better and pointedly for researcher writers? (If so, PLEASE do share. We’d love to know about it).

In closing:

Message presenter Don then went on to say that he believes that every believer is an ordained believer. I guess in our fledgling-blossoming researcher vocabulary, that would translate to

“I guess I believe that every researcher is an ordained researcher. Even when they are fledgling, and that is why they blossom.”

I honestly believe that your research is important if for no other reason than that it contributes to an important conversation that others will “join.” Your perspective just might spark the idea that leads to someone’s lit review that eventually transforms some aspect of the game. Who knows? Your piece is important though. So, as I often tell myself throughout the day, “Carry on! Carry ON!”


2 thoughts on “Are You Devoted to Your Research? And, We Have OFFICIALLY Launched. Yay!

  1. Okay. So when I created the post, I embedded two questions within it. They are:

    Question #1: “Is your level of devotion (or commitment) to your research project evolving? If so, how, why, and is it for the better?”, and

    Question #2: “Can we appropriate any of these [4 lists describing devotion, or COMPONENTS from these 4 lists describing devotion] in our lives as researchers? Some may not translate well, but others may. What do you think? Too much? Right on point? You know of a book that says it better and pointedly for researcher writers?”

    I’ve had some time to reflect, and so here are my answers to the two questions above, respectively:

    My personal answer, #1:
    Yes, my level of devotion to my research project is evolving: It is evolving for the better, I am so GRATEFUL to be able to say so!!! How is it evolving? Well . . . though this thesis is STILL to some degree about proving I actually have it in me to do this, that probably accounts for 20% of my motives now. Eighty percent (80%) of my motives stem from just LOVING the way investigation works, loving being in the literature, loving having the identity of “being one of those who is figuring stuff out!!!”, and loving paving the way for an eventual research agenda that I will proudly speak to my students and advisees and colleagues/peers about some day!!! In other words, the more that I SELF-IDENTIFY as a researcher and future professor, the more my project is . . . well . . . me. I’m starting to feel, implicitly, that “This is what I do.”

    So, uh, heck yeah! It’s evolving! Glad I had to reflect on that: It’s a momentum strengthener and confidence booster, and it was free!!! (wink)

    My personal answer, #2:
    Regarding those 4 lists above about devotion: Hmm. The way my mind works, I could really, REALLY get down into analyzing them and comment MUCH about them. So here’s how I’ll plan to share my personal reflections about them: Over the NEXT 4 blog posts, at the beginning of each I will take one of those lists and discuss what I see in it in terms of researching and identity-as-researcher. Then afterward I’ll continue the “normally scheduled” topic for that post day.

    I think that’ll work!

    So, until then . . .


    Mantra: Fearlessly! Prep, write, plan, outline, design, inspire, grow . . . WRITE FEARLESSLY!!!

  2. I just posted a blog entry on my blog entitled, “Are you happy?” It seemed like a nice way to relate to a “preview of upcoming topics” that you alluded to in an earlier post. It doesn’t answer the specific questions you ask above, but it does address this idea of being devoted to your career (and whether that devotion has resulted in happiness). The post is slightly cynical, but it ends on a positive thought. I am open to thoughts from contributors here because this is certainly something with which I struggle. Hope you enjoy …

    “Are you happy?”
    The title of this post is a question that I have been asked TWICE this week now. So it seems as if the heavens above are compelling me to 1) ask myself this question and REALLY think hard about it; and 2) write about it so that I can share my thoughts/feelings with others who may benefit from this post.

    A masters student asked me today, as I was advising her about the journey of becoming an academic (she is interested in doing a doctorate), whether I am happy that I have chosen the academic job route. It’s a tough question, though, because on the one hand, I do absolutely love my work. So much so that it’s a little bit of an addiction. In fact, my late advisor said it well: “Jason, being an academic means that you’ll always have a mistress. You have your wife … but she’ll always be jealous of your work and all the time that you’ll spend with it instead of with her.” Being an academic is, in many ways, a completely selfish act. I seek knowledge because I want to know more (I’m just so darn curious!). I spend countless hours toiling over things that other people would consider minutiae (but it’s NOT minutiae … I’m building knowledge here, for goodness sakes … pushing the frontiers of what we know!). And I do all of this, at least for me as an emerging scholar, because I find it intensely interesting and, quite frankly, because I want to be employable at a top-notch institution. So I do spend lots of time trying to get published … trying to think of really awesome ideas that can get funded by people with deep pockets … the sort of stuff that takes absurd amounts of time … time that could have been spent with my family, had I not been so addicted to my work (see post entitled “Debt”).

    So yes, I’m happy that I chose this route because it fulfills my career aspirations, and because the job just really suits my dispositions well. But …

    It also means that spending those countless hours working my tail off really puts a strain on the other parts of my life. I’ll be frank here. The academic life is not family-friendly. I am constantly being pulled back to my laptop because I’m always thinking, “I need to get _____ paper out for publication …” or “I have to meet with _______ and discuss how to write our NSF grant,” or more commonly (at least in my immediate future), “I have to GRADE PAPERS!!!” I do see a small number of people who have families and seem to be able to handle it quite well. But, they ARE the minority for sure. In other words, I have yet to find a way to balance my work life with my family life so that the one (work) does not consume the other. At this point in my life, Amy and the kids are most definitely getting consumed by my work. As a postdoc, finances are TIGHT, especially with 2 kids. So we are a family of 2 working professionals who are scraping by (financially) to make ends meet. That’s a big cause of unhappiness. Also, at the end of the day, Amy and I are so strung out from work that we barely have time or energy to even spend quality time together. That’s also a cause of unhappiness. Yet, it’s what I’ve chosen. So I own it … all the happiness AND the unhappiness that comes with the choice.

    As an academic, it really helps if you have a spouse who borders saintliness. Amy is my personal hero. And ultimately, whatever I “achieve” in my academic career won’t mean a thing unless that work can contribute to and support other people in the same way that Amy has contributed to and supported my own happiness. And for that, I defer to St. Bernard of Clairvau:

    There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowing; that is curiosity.
    There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is vanity.
    There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is love.

    I doubt that I can say in earnest that I am really happy that I’ve chosen this route unless I can say that I have sought knowledge in order to serve. Unfortunately, my perception of how things are in my field is that, as a junior researcher, you simply do not have any room to do such things … yet.

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