Secret Life of the American Professor
Mary Marvin
mmarv339@uwsp.edu

Professors are the backbone of university life, but have you ever wondered what else they do besides teach?

Seeing your professor out and about can be as startling as a dog playing the piano. It’s easy to forget that they have their own lives outside of school. One of the big pieces in the professor puzzle is research.

Professors often have loads of work to do in addition to grading papers. Whether they are in the communication department, the art department, or any department in between, they have a good deal of other duties to perform. Those who contribute to scholarly journals have a lot of research to do after class ends.

Tamás Bodor, professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, describes the process of getting published in a scholarly journal as a lot of pressure. It is often a requirement for a professor to publish something in a scholarly journal, as it helps them get a promotion or tenure. It’s understandable that this puts the professor under a lot of stress to do a proper job with their projects. Often, a promotion is based on the quality and quantity of scholarly articles being produced.

In research, the first thing a professor must do is find a topic of interest to them. Passion is the motivator for diving into research and writing something worth reading. During this process, professors do a lot of reading, journaling and gathering information. Much like students, they look to libraries for relevant texts and data.

After all the important pieces of information are collected, they must be constructed into a project worthy of a prestigious journal. This editing process is only the beginning.

It can take up to a year to see an article finally go to print. First, it’s sent out to the editor, who in turn sends it out to be peer reviewed. The people reading the article are often experts in their field. They send it back to the editor after including notes for revision.

An article can go through multiple revisions before it sees the light of day. It’s very rare for an article to only have one draft. After receiving the revision comments, the editor either approves or denies the new draft and the article finally gets its day in the sun.

Where do professors find the time to do all this?

“I am able to write and research over the December breaks and in the summer,” said Kristi Roth, director of physical education at UWSP.

“Manuscript preparation can take on average 20 hours for a short article,” Roth said. “Book publications take about three months to develop

the proposal and one year to develop the publication.”

Roth is an author herself. She recently wrote the 12th edition for a textbook as well as creating an e-book with her students for students with severe disabilities.

It’s a point of pride to have our professors lend their voices to the scholarly debate. If you’re interested in your professor’s subject, check out what they’ve written.

“I hope students understand that all effective professors have to spend significant time preparing for class,” Roth said. “Understanding and generating trends in their fields is time consuming, but results in a better education for students.”

Professors are a lot more like students than one would think. Both are under deep-sea levels of pressure and both have to have their projects under scrutiny. Maybe we should just have a campus-wide group hug as we all struggle to stay afloat.​