protecting research leave

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I am lucky to be able to have a university-scheduled research leave coming up (just for one term).

It has come to my attention that my leave this time around is going to be hard to navigate. I have already received a number of signs that the administrators who run our office an assign tasks are completely uninterested in the fact of research leave. Fortunately most of my major tasks (teaching and committees) have been reallocated, but there are some administrative forms and student recruitment events that I know will be bombarding my email box over the leave months.

What I am hoping to do is to put on a serious auto-reply message that helpfully directs people to the appropriate contact and to ignore or just file non-research incoming. And that if something is really crucial the chair can tell me to do it.

Unfortunately, most of my colleagues seem to be less protective of their research time with regard to the administrative side, because there are many administrators and of course one's life gets very difficult if they decide they don't like you. But the administrative side are going too far with ignoring the premises of research leave, so I will have to do something to set boundaries, even if they aren't used to this from my colleagues.

Any good advice on how to navigate this? My chair seems a bit afraid of the administrators, so relatively out of the picture for the most part.

Lots of folks leave town during their research leaves.  If you can't actually leave, then just pretend you're out of the country, or at least out of state.  Create an autoreply message for your email.  Simple.

Or am I missing something?

Like System_D said, put your work e-mail on autoreply and STAY OFF CAMPUS if you can at all help it.

If you intend to remain in town and do not do both these things, administrators (as you describe them) will be all too happy to suck up your time, since "you're around" and "not teaching."

You can check your work e-mail as often as you like, but be careful not to reply to anyone or anything work-related--that you feel is in violation of the terms of your leave--for 1-2 weeks MINIMUM.  Replying more quickly will give the signal that you are professionally available.

When/if you do reply, be Prof. SunnyJim.  "Sorry, but as per my autoreply I'm on a research leave and checking my work e-mail only sporadically.  Obviously I can't attend that recruitment event, as it was nine days ago!  I'll be excited to help recruit new students for the program as soon as I'm back from my leave."

If it's research leave, you should be free of those responsibilities. If tenured, you should just ignore all of those requests, or if you do answer (after a long delay), tell them you're on research leave and that's that. If not tenured, it depends on the culture.

And though I don't abandon my dissertation/job market students when I'm on sabbatical (almost always out of the country -- and also on the most recent one, when I was holed up at home writing, having done the research on away-from-home leave or summers), I do have a temporary gmail address shared only with those students, my own family members, and (when the department chair is someone I trust) with the department chair. Thus I can ignore anything that comes to my university address for weeks at a time without feeling guilty.


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