Academic Performance Review 

Every year, in December, we are expected to hand in our Academic Performance Reviews. It was due today, and I managed to get it finished 1 hour before midnight.
One thing I like about the APR is the section where I am asked to set out my goals and objectives for the new year, and examine my year’s achievements against last years goals and objectives. It provides an opportunity to reflect on my career, how I spend my time, those things at which I failed and those at which I succeeded. In February I will be meeting with my Head of Department to discuss it.
December is probably not a good time for this thoughtful process. I find myself trying to catch up with everything that needs to be done before year end, and sometimes getting things accomplished is a sluggish process because everyone is getting ready for the end of year and Christmas lunches, parties, drinks and dinners, and the closeness to the nearing summer break means that things dont work with the usual level of efficiency, And of course, everyone is trying to tie up the loose knots — so it can all become an uphill battle.
I do my best thinking over the Christmas break. The University is closed and I can sit at home with my laptop enjoying the sun coming in through my window with no phone calls and few work-related email interruptions. I can think. I can turn the music on, and the change of pace is good.
So I submitted the APR now, but I am sure I will be looking at it with a slightly different light over the break. I hope I will be allowed to provide a better version before the meeting.
So what were my favoruite APR items this year?

1. Engagement outside the University
2. What we accomplished in New Zealand in the Open space throughout the year
3. Tha the Open Research Conference is really happening.

There were a few other things that made me smile as I was typing them: Being invited to join the blogging network at PLOS. Moving along with mentoring seccondary school science students. The manuscript submitted to PeerJ. The work done for PLOS ONE. Getting more work done in the lab. Not having given up on funding. The great student feedback on my teaching. The discussions about making what I teach better. The manuscripts that are almost there ready to submit. The success of my former PhD student. The friendships that developed with unexpected people. (Well, I didnt really type that last one!)

And APRs are a good opportunity to discuss what I value with respects to “metrics” of my success. Unlike other evaluation processes, I can justify in the discussion why I choose not to offer the impact factor of the journals in which I publish, or why I think that one specific item is more important with respect to impact than another.

Mainly, it is great to go through one of these APRs to find out that, for the most part the huge effort ends up paying off, and while the failures are there too, they are neither paralizing nor defining.

Time for a pat on the back, and a good night sleep methinks.

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