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A Professor's Interrupted Research Hours

  1. Feb 9, 2007 #1
    I'm just wondering:

    On average, how many hours per day does a professor lose from his valuable research time to fufill his duties of giving lectures, preparing the lectures, making assignments, tests, marking, assisting individual students, advising PhD students, having meetings, doing administrative stuff, etc... and all other duties not related to doing research?
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2007 #2
    That is the other exciting part about academia, though! I really want to be an enthusiastic professor and a quality, researcher, equally. Perhaps I am deluded but I want to give back to the community that nurtures me, if I am able to do so.

    I suspect from your questions that you don't look forward to the teaching aspect, or are you just trying to gauge the entire spectrum of professorship?
  4. Feb 9, 2007 #3
    I've asked a couple of my professors the same question. They all seemed to agree that their research falls a bit behind due to the huge commitment there is to teaching, but they don't mind. However, they do take advantage of semesters off from teaching to get some serious researching done.
  5. Feb 9, 2007 #4
    I'd be interested to know the answer to this too. To be honest, I'm slightly more interested in teaching than in research (though I certainly want to have an active research career as well), so I wouldn't mind if the answer to your question is "a lot of time." Heck, some people look at me weird when I say that I'm looking forward to being a TA next fall.
  6. Feb 9, 2007 #5
    Is it more or less than 4 hours per day?
  7. Feb 9, 2007 #6
    For what it's worth, my freshman physics professor once commented that between answering e-mails and office hours with students, he spent about three hours a day with students.
  8. Feb 9, 2007 #7
    So 3 hours with students outside of class, plus another three hours for classes and preparing classes. And then there is the admin stuff that we never see. We're talking at least 6 hours per day, none of which is research time ???
  9. Feb 9, 2007 #8
    It's more than a full-time job, it's a lifestyle my friend!
  10. Feb 9, 2007 #9
    Dunno, but some definitely put in more times than others. You can tell which ones took time to plan out notes and add useful examples and which ones decided to copy practically verbatim from the textbook. The extra effort is definitely appreciated - if I wanted to read the text, I would! I don't need it dictated to me.
  11. Feb 9, 2007 #10
    Yes, I would like to make math research my full-time job and lifestyle. I currently study up to 12 hours per day, and was hoping to be able to do 12 hours per day of math research and enjoying every hour of it. But with those 6+ hours per day taken away...
  12. Feb 9, 2007 #11
    I do not think teaching is such a bad thing... Whenever I have a bad professor, I always think that one day, when I am in the same spot giving out lectures, I will explain every bits in details and do a much better job at delivering the concepts of physics.
  13. Feb 9, 2007 #12
    You could always have your students do your research for you =P not sure how accurate that would be though
  14. Feb 9, 2007 #13


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    some one told me once that all three aspects of the job, research, teaching, administration, are potentially infinite commitements, you just have to learn somehow to keep them under some control.

    i,.e. you can potentially lose your entire day every day to those other tasks.

    the only escape is a research leave of absence at another university where you are not on faculty and hence have no duties,.

    that is heaven, but it happens very seldom, as there is not any pay for that in general. i sold my car once to get such an appointment. it was great!

    finally we got hungry, i sent my family home and tried to live out the last month alone on $50. I was counting on the $5 I deserved for turning in my office key to buy food, but the worthless secretary had not turned in the key and there was no $5 for me, I freaked out, and had to spend a dollar on a rose to make up to the person I yelled at.

    but those days were exciting and fun, not bad at all.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2007
  15. Feb 10, 2007 #14
    I take it this part is just a joke, or at least an exaggeration.

    Is there something wrong with this universal system? Shouldn't a professor's talents be used solely for research, and the teaching duties be given to TA's or something or another? After all, what's taught at university does not require the full expertise of a professor. And most students end up learning on their own anyway.

    Taking away 6+ hours per day from a professor's research hours is like forcing a highly talented computer programmer to spend 6+ hours per day doing simple computer tasks and so the fruits of his talents will not fully materialize.

    Stephen Hawking gets to do research full-time (he cannot teach anyway), and that is correct because this way his talents are being used fully. But I think this should be the case for all professors. But one person's opinion will not change anything so I should not complain.
  16. Feb 10, 2007 #15
    although thats possbile, i'm not so sure:rolleyes:
  17. Feb 10, 2007 #16

    Then be a research professor. We have plenty of those at my university. They don't like to teach, so they don't. But, I'm pretty sure theres no tenure for them, and they must support their income off of their own research grants.
  18. Feb 10, 2007 #17

    Dr Transport

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    Years ago when I taught at a community college, as a part-timer I had 16 hours of contact time a week with my students, my preparation time was about 6-10 hours a week. I had nights and weekends to mess around with physics problems I wanted to do. Most full-time faculty members don't have as many contact hours, i.e. class time and office hours and can attempt to do research and many do not redo their notes every year so thier prep time is minimal.
  19. Feb 10, 2007 #18
    So I guess that's the bottom line: money.

    Governments simply will not pay enough for sole research work by mathematicians and scientists, and so these bright, talented people have to resort to the tuition fees from students, and thus have to give up 60%+ of their research time to the paying students. The world's progress in math and physics would advance much faster if it wasn't for this.

    I never once thought about money during all my math studies--I love math for math--but it seems like we are forced to.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2007
  20. Feb 10, 2007 #19


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    What's so bad about teaching? If these "researchers" never teach, how does the next generation learn?
  21. Feb 10, 2007 #20
    TA's can teach university courses adequately (I've had TA's substitute for my professors for extended periods of time). A professor's talents should be left enitrely for research IMHO (and, in terms of helping out the next generation, advising PhD students--the professor's expertise is needed for that).
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