Oh, you’re an “academic”… but what exactly are you doing? Among my favorite cartoonists are Mikael Wulff and Anders Morgenthaler, who together write WuMO. Here are eight handpicked WuMo cartoons that explain the essence of academic life. Enjoy!
Teaching is one of the most important things academics do. Generally, we love passing on the knowledge we have spent years to gain in specialized topics. Sometimes, however, we also teach outside our expertise, and there are different ways to cope with it. Gary’s strategy is perhaps unusual, but some students will recognize it.
Research is the really exciting part of academia. Remember when you were a kid and could spend hours to figure out a puzzle? Research is (almost) just like that. The smile on Professor Zapinsky’s face is likely to sustain for a long time… until a referee asks for potential confounding factors in his experiment.
Academic conferences… we love them! Conferences are our secret getaways, where we can travel the world to exotic locations on public tax money and meet like-minded individuals. The best part of conferences? Free drinks at the reception party.
Our most tangible output is academic papers. We can spend months preparing, writing, discussing, and re-writing papers. The average number an academic peer-reviewed journal article is read is less than 10. In contrast, the most viewed cat video of all times on YouTube has more than 100 million views. If you want to get famous quickly, academia is probably not for you.
Not all we do is as thrilling as teaching and research. Sometimes, we also do “service” tasks, such as compiling reports for funding bodies or other bothers. Fortunately then, because we work on university campuses, we enjoy super high-speed internet (which may explain around half of all cat video views ever).
One part of our job is to supervise students. I tend to disagree with my colleague who says that “the university would be the perfect place to work if it weren’t for the students.” Students are fun. Many of them are just younger versions of us (like these four specimen).
Academic work place
You may be surprised to learn that most academics are average citizens and only a few are stereotypes. Yet, many academics will identify with this “reality calls” cartoon. The life on the university can, admittedly, be quite different from the one outside.
A great thing about academics is that we love our work so much that we bring it with us twenty-four seven. Another good quality is that we respect intellectual property rights more than most other occupations. And, to the pleasure (and despair) of friends and family, we generally love to argue. Bring it on!
Something I missed? Please comment below or link to your favorite cartoon illustrating the perks and realities of academic life.