09 June 2011

Plan A, or why I was in Lancaster

A moment of stability in the system: I am walking down the hill from Lancaster University.

You might recall a couple of months ago I was talking about doing a postdoc and then talking about how it wasn't going to work out and then... god, I don't know where I last landed. It's been up and down. Anyway, I made this list about possibilities a while back, and you'll recall that one of the possibilities was:
  • Good case scenario: I don't get the [postdoc] grant, but am able to find other means of funding and/or the university takes me on to do some other work.
I actually had misjudged this as a 'good' case scenario and not 'best' because I didn't take into account that
  • this would be a job with a Tier 2 (working) visa,
  • it would last 2 years and not 1,
  • it would involve collaborating with well-known researchers and potentially getting some joint publications, and
  • it would position me much better for a teaching position at the end because I would have a full three years to look for work.
Well, this scenario seems to have worked out, or at least the potential for it has worked out. As I was in Lancaster to give my talk on antagonism on YouTube, I was also meeting with a couple of professors I quite respect and hope to do some collaborative work with. The result of the meeting was that we decided to make an application for funding in which they would be the Primary Investigators, and I would be a named research assistant, meaning that if we win the bid, I will work for the project for 18-24 months as a researcher, doing some teaching there and at Birmingham (as I have up to now), and working on my own research. Really, the best Plan A. 

I say best: it's the best for me becoming... well, something in the academic world. There are easier paths and ones that would lead to more money quickly. But in the multiverse, the universe in which I have the potential to become an editor of a well-known journal, a professor at a good university in the UK, famous among a small group of applied linguists, author of several books... That universe takes this path. The other universes go different ways. Require different things.

Now, it's certainly not a given: we have to apply and win the bid. I have to finish my PhD on time and get a visa. But the acceptance rate for these bids is closer to 15% (much better than postdocs or jobs) and likely higher considering the calibre of the professors I'm applying with and the very high calibre of the linguistics department in Lancaster (Numero uno, baby) as well as being the heart of critical approaches to discourse analysis (Marx, Foucault, etc.). Getting the visa should also be less difficult. Even if we don't get the funding, I will be working with people who are good to work with. And the fact that they are interested in me and my work can only be a good sign. 

Again, far, far from a given, but... Am I excited? Uh, yeah. Yeah I am.