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Alternative Academic Careers: Potential Benefits to PhDs and the Academy

Elizabeth Waraksa

In a post today on the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Re.Thinking blog, Elizabeth Waraksa, ARL strategic thinking and design research fellow and former CLIR postdoctoral fellow, reflects on how working with collaborative, interdisciplinary teams has changed her outlook on academic career options. She discusses her experiences working on three discrete projects: the open access UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, CLIR’s Observations on Scholarly Engagement with Hidden Special Collections and Archives study, and ARL’s strategic thinking and design research work stream.

Waraksa notes that working on these projects has given her a fresh view of career possibilities for herself and other PhDs:

There are tangible benefits to working within the collaborative, multidisciplinary environment…and these should be strongly considered by the many skilled doctorates and near-doctorates facing the realities of today’s tenure-track job market…When one works on a team in which every voice is heard, every skill is applied, and every member is respected as a professional, the dream that many of us nurtured in graduate school can indeed become a reality: having a challenging, interesting, and fulfilling position in the realm of higher education, with supportive colleagues, appropriate compensation, and the opportunity to research, write, publish, and present.

Waraksa concludes by observing that the engagement of “freelance PhDs” by CLIR, ARL, and other organizations is “a practical way for the institutions to address the challenges facing higher education from a wide variety of perspectives,” in addition to “disrupting” the reliance on adjunct faculty appointments.

Read the full July 17, 2014, blog post, “Embracing Teamwork and the Limited-Term Initiative.”

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