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Sara L. Uckelman

One tactic I've started adopting is recognizing that I am unlikely to be less busy in the future, whatever commitments I already have lined up or not. Thus when it comes to refereeing, if I can't commit to doing it within a week of receiving the request, the chances that I will have time to do it in the next thee months are vanishingly small. So I only accept requests that I can immediately act on.


Thanks for the post! One thing I've found is that some commitments can be made to *increase* productivity on others. A few times, for example, I've seen a CFP for a conference I really wanted to apply to, while also needing to draft a new paper/chapter of my dissertation. So I decided that, if I were to allow myself to apply to the conference, I was going to submit a (short) draft of the paper that needed to be written. I'm pretty sure I was more productive on that paper than I would have been had I not applied and gone to the conference. (Obviously this tactic won't work with all optional commitments, but it can work with conferences, leading reading groups, and meetings with committee members.)

Trevor Hedberg

@lategrad -- That's a good strategy when things work out that way. (It did happen to me once: I got invited to review a book that was on my dissertation reading list anyway.) The problem, as you suggest, is that you'll be limited in how often your commitments mesh in this way. I suppose that proper planning with respect to choice of dissertation topic and such could increase the likelihood of achieving this overlap, but there is so much unpredictability in when opportunities arise, how long journal review times take, etc., that I expect it would still be really hard to avoid the core problem.

Anthony Fernandez

I used the strategy that lategrad recommends for all my dissertation chapters, and it worked well. Admittedly, a couple of these opportunities were for one-off conferences where the timing worked out well. As Trevor points out, these are unpredictable, so they involved a bit of luck. But other chapters were initially drafted for submission to big annual conferences (e.g., SPEP, APA, and some annual specialist conferences), or as invited chapters/articles. These were much easier to plan for, and provided some helpful structure to my dissertation writing.

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