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[More] Academic New Year’s Resolutions You Won’t Keep

December 30, 2013

January for academics is like September for the fashion industry. Rather than fresh lipstick shades and new boots, ’tis the season to start fresh, to organize your office, shake off the pre-Christmas crumbs from your desk, and try to tackle the year with enthusiasm and a fresh perspective. Time to forget about the academic resolutions you didn’t keep last year and start fresh with some new (and hopefully more realistic) objectives. Feel free to add some of your own to the comments section.
1. Stay away from Political Science Job Rumors. (
Seriously, why does anyone- especially young scholars looking for advice or info about jobs- visit this ‘Perez Hilton for Polisci Scholars’ site? I’m not even on the job market and yet I find myself skimming over the contents at least a handful of times a year. Is it to remind myself how depressing, vile, gossipy, pathetic, competitive the field can be? This year I *MUST* avoid the endless debate about top schools, worst security profs, dysfunctional journals, and most eligible PhD candidates.
2. Never take red-eyes to conferences.
This is a classic mistake that must end. When booking, the savings of $200+ to fly overnight is often just too attractive (especially when you are working with reduced conference budgets). But, at 4am when you have been in a pretzel position for 6 hours between the snorer and the lady with the world’s smallest bladder; or when you run into your student/academic hero/boss in the immigration or baggage line sporting zombi makeup, origami clothing, and your pink fuzzy flight pillow you will *ALWAYS* be willing to pay $1000+ to be in a hotel room getting a decent sleep before a full day of meetings. Life is too short.
3. Never share a conference room
While we’re on the subject of conferences, let’s all make a resolution not to share rooms anymore. Don’t get me wrong- I have fond memories of sharing and catching up with friends at some conferences….but we’re adults, we need sleep, we come from different time zones, we have different junk television needs at the end of the day, and we don’t want to be held accountable for the decision to fall asleep face first in bed during the afternoon sessions. Surely this is all worth more than half the room rate?
4. Finally figure out how to file expenses
Seriously, does every university make submitting your expenses a 12-step obstacle course of shame, frustration, and hopelessness? Do the links, codes, and menu items not change every time? My #1 wish for the year is to have a research assistant who can finally master the expense code and just magically turn my squirrel pile of receipts into a refund for me…because I know I never will.
5. Take the money for book reviews
Publishers must love us academic nerds. In exchange for reading book proposals, or reviewing books, we almost always accept payment in books rather than cash- right? It is so tempting to go through the list and get 10 books for- gasp- free. But let’s be honest, you won’t have time to read half of them, and the other half are in your library or you can get on the last day of the ISA for $5 anyway. This year I’m taking the money and doing something daring/risky/frivolous with it….like renewing my Economist subscription. Sigh…still nerdy.

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Megan MacKenzie is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney in Australia. Her main research interests include feminist international relations, gender and the military, the combat exclusion for women, the aftermaths of war and post-conflict resolution, and transitional justice. Her book Beyond the Band of Brothers: the US Military and the Myth that Women Can't Fight comes out with Cambridge University Press in July 2015.