This theme is in relation to the (in)visible conference.

What is research?

A pillar of contemporary universities is splitting their faculty into separate classes: tenured professors, adjuncts, visiting, replacement and part-time etc. This fracturing of the professorate is not accidental, but reflective of business model. The major fault line separating the professorate, however, is between “regular” professors that conduct research and part-time professors who “only” teach. At the University of Ottawa, for example, APUO professors (full-time) are compensated according to the 40-40-20 formula in terms of apportioning their salary in respective terms of research, teaching, and service. On the other hand, APTPUO professors (part-time) are paid exclusively for teaching. If part-time professors “only” teach, then their salary could be justifiably prorated at only 40% of tenured faculty.

The idea that part-time professors do not conduct research, however, does not hold water. First, the majority of part-time professors have PhDs that required completion of a major research project. Second, how can you separate teaching from research? You cannot teach a subject that you have not mastered. Third, although contract faculty is not paid for service, many volunteer services like meeting with students and writing letters of recommendation — tasks inherent to teaching. Although the formal service component may be missing from their contract, at least some of the service functions performed by tenured faculty are also carried out by contract faculty as non-paid work. In fact, since contract faculty typically teach many more students, the time they dedicate to service is in some cases considerably higher than tenured faculty.

The primary difference between tenured and non-tenured faculty lies not with their basic qualification, but the institutional support they receive for research. All faculty research to prepare for their classes. Tenure track faculty also need to apply for grants and publish in scientific journals to earn promotion. While tenured faculty are compensated, honoured, and supported for conducting this research, non-tenured faculty often receive little financial aid to attend professional conferences or institutional support for applying to grants. Nonetheless, many contract professors still overcome these institutional obstacles to publish in scientific journals; an achievement that is rarely acknowledged, celebrated, or rewarded by universities whose cost structure is predicated upon the subterfuge that only tenured faculty conduct research.