As a member of staff whose work is being submitted to the REF, you have probably been focussing on two aspects of your career: the outputs (monograph and journal publications or websites) and their impact (their significance in spheres outside academic life, such as in developing public policy). However, there is a third area that the REF will be considering: your ‘esteem’. This article discusses how to raise your profile in this area.
What is ‘esteem’?
This is a difficult term to define, but ‘esteem’ refers to your overall professional reputation covering factors other than your publishing, teaching and administrative activities. Some of the aspects of your working life considered under ‘esteem’ are:
- Membership of professional bodies
- Editorship of journals
- Organisation of conferences
- Being invited to speak at conferences
- Awards and prizes
If you are an active jobseeker at the moment, these aspects of your career should have featured on your CV. But for many scholars these factors can be neglected in the pressure to achieve large research grants and a prolific publication record.
How to enhance your esteem?
You still have time to improve your esteem rating for the REF, but you will have to act fast. The best way is by using your network, that is, your existing connections. Often, if you show people that you are willing to take on extra responsibilities, you will be welcomed immediately. Here are some actions that you can take in the short term to enhance your esteem.
- Speak to colleagues at other universities and offer yourself as a guest speaker at their research seminar programmes. This counts as being an invited speaker, even though you have approached them.
- Offer to take a role on a board of a professional body. Speak to any friends and colleagues who already do this job and ask if they need anyone else. Be prepared to tell them what skills and expertise you can offer.
- There is still time to organise a conference before the REF. Attracting international speakers and delegates will enhance the ‘esteem’ factor of your conference. Speak to colleagues or a mentor or the research director at your university about whether money would be available to support you.
Longer term esteem planning.
Aspects of the esteem indicators take a number of years to generate, so start to plan now for the future. It may seem a difficult task for an early career scholar to become an editor of a peer reviewed journal but with careful planning this can be achieved in only a few years. Many journals are edited by people who want to hand over the job to someone else or take a co-editor on board to lighten the workload. Becoming the reviews editor of a journal is a good way of working on a journal team and this will also allow you to make connections with a number of key scholars in your field.
Gaining awards and prizes for your work is undertaken by putting forward your work for consideration for as many prizes as possible. Research possible prizes online. Your work must be of an excellent calibre to be considered, but winning a prize is incredibly prestigious and it will enhance your CV and make you much more employable too.