What is success? What does it mean to be successful as an academic? The constant drip of “publish or perish” and similar mantras trigger ripples daily in the sea of the academy. It makes sense to be involved in the intellectual conversation – to engage with the latest research and much debated issues – but the pressure can feel almost overwhelming, especially in the early part of one’s career.
In a recent piece by Dorothy Boorse “In Focus: Asking the Right Question” Boorse reflects upon common academic mindsets and expectations. Boorse shares:
One professor declared in a seminar, “In the end, what stands is your publication record. Jobs may come and go, spouses may come and go, but at the end, what you have is your publication record.”
I do not look at scientific productivity as the only measure of success. Rather than asking, “Am I doing everything I thought I would do?” or “Am I doing as much in my field as other people?” I suggest we ask, “Am I contributing to the world?” and “Does my life work?” A Christian can ask, “Am I doing what I think God is calling me to do with my talents and abilities?”