Four possible goals for the next 3-4 years

Having a regular job rather than being self-employed and also not having a degree to complete  has resulted in more time for research. That’s what I’ve realized in the past few weeks.

I’ve been taking stock of my goals for the next few years and what I want to accomplish. For the moment, that means getting some old research projects completed. That’s also the result of the fresh spate of writing you have seen over the past two weeks on imperative. Whether anyone is actually enjoying it or not, it’s been good for me to put out these bits as I try to get a couple articles cleaned up.

The quiet of the past months since my last burst of blogging last summer was a result of trying to finish my book chapter for The Greek Verb Revisited (parenthesis: I know that I still owe some posts about the conference. I haven’t forgotten and I promise I’ll get to them in April).

As I’ve been finishing these writing projects, it has given me time to reflect on what I want to do next with my spare time. A few options:

  • I could dive into writing articles and try to publish as much as I can on Greek linguistics: pronouns, more aspect, noun phrase stuff, Greek prosody, split constituency–basically anything that I’ve written about here in a piecemeal fashion over the past six years.
  • I could diving into data analysis. I have a good dozen Greek linguistic data projects that I really want to get a leg up on: predicate types, prepositions, negation research, my own treebank tagged for things that interest me specifically that goes beyond merely the New Testament.
  • Write the reference grammar.
  • Get a PhD in linguistics. It’d be a research program. I have the university and a supervisor picked out, a proposal that’s nearly ready that basically seeks to fill out the “future research” section of my MA thesis. I just need to initiate that conversation.

Trouble is: I basically have to choose just one of these. I have a tendency to get obsessive over whatever I choose to do and have trouble doing anything else. Considering that my job at Logos Bible Software need to take up a large portion of my time each week, I can’t see myself splitting what’s left between three efforts. So I need to make a choice. I want the fourth, but I’m not always convinced that I need it. It would basically be a validation. I know I can do the research and I would be doing research whether I got it or not. The data projects are tempting because of the ground work they would lay for the future, but they would see very little short term benefit. I could easily write the grammar fairly quickly (three years?), but without the data projects finished, it wouldn’t be the testable analysis that I dream it will be. Still, I also don’t want it to wait 30 years and publish it as a final life’s work either. We need a new reference grammar now, not when I hit retirement age. Focusing on publishing journal articles seems like it would be fun and relatively easy, but it also feels like a stop gap.

Things to think about…

8 thoughts on “Four possible goals for the next 3-4 years

    1. I have every intention of getting a PhD. It’s more a matter of when: before or after I join Wycliffe Bible Translators.

      Beyond that, though, my work already is taken seriously.

  1. How did you start yourself down that road of intense research. I only work part time, so I could invest myself quite a bit. The motivation is the most difficult part for me.

    1. I don’t know. I just always been like this. I’ve never been able to commit to anything partially. It’s always all or nothing. My wife finds it both entertaining and perplexing…depending on whether I’ve remembered to eat.

  2. I think you are asking for advice, so here goes. Finish your doctorate. You put it off one more time, the opportunities may start dissolving. I finished my doctorate at 47, not the academic path to recommend.
    Just finish.
    Then the credibility that you will earn will increase your chance to “sell” that reference grammar that is your dream. I love Logos but don’t settle for their digital publishing. Go for print. I was concerned that the EEC would only be digital but I was thankful they fulfilled a promise to print.

    Will

    1. Wycliffe is good with providing opportunities for their workers to engage in academic work. Scholarship was an important value of the late Kenneth Pike. He put a great emphasis in making sure that Wycliffe missionaries engaged in the scholarly world and had the credentials, but I most certainly do think about what you’re describing on a regular basis. On the one hand, half of my friends that are currently on the mission field have gone back to school for more education after they started on their project. On the other, having it completed it really, really appealing. I debate the question a lot…hence the question. Our plan is to give Rachel the next year and a half to finish her thesis…which, quite honestly, is going to be a ground breaking piece on Greek voice, then spend some time continuing to work at Logos for the purpose of paying off some debt.

      The big question is this: would I be able to finish a dissertation in that time? If not, then I probably shouldn’t start. That’s the main thing I go back and forth on.

      I’m going to message you privately on the topic of the grammar–that’s big topic and fairly secretive at the moment.

  3. If you feel like the dissertation would just be validation for you, then could you do one on a wildly different topic? Or any chance the grammar could be that?

  4. Mike, there is no end to the writing and publishing books. It helps to know what you want to do when you grow up (lol)? I still ask my self that question. It has been my experience, writing the sort of books that I write for Evangelical audiences, you cannot pay the bills writing. Even with a PhD, writing will not pay the bills even though you may spend years writing something. Furthermore, earning a PhD will not guarantee that you may publish or even get a teaching position.

    Furthermore if you get a teaching position, it has been my experience that teaching is an insecure vocation, especially among Evangelical institutions. Let me count the ways: PhDs are a dime a dozen, institutions can afford to be capricious, institutions tend to be consumer driven whereby students determine the curriculum today due to institutional needs to make their bottom line, institutions tend to demand much and pay little, the pressure to redirect studies to on-line learning enables more and more institutions to hire adjunct faculty (= graders) whether they have an earned PhD or not, if you are a thinker and deviate from thinking uniformly with your institution your job may be in jeopardy, etc.

    I’ve been fortunate to have a wife who had a secular job whose salary kept pace with inflation, benefit packages have been honored, and efforts and achievements rewarded both verbally and financially. You may not find that in the academy. I didn’t. However, you will make more money working for an institution than working for a publisher. But be aware that your institution may say they want you to publish, but be prepared to do it on your own time. Once again, that has been my experience.

    So why do you want a PhD? What do you want to do when you grow up? I think it is important to realize that if you take either of the forks in the road mentioned above, your spouse will need to supplement your income (and I’d recommend that she accept a secular job). If you desire to teach and write, be prepared to jump hoops, play politics, and arrange your personal time so that you can write. If you’re lucky, you may find an institution that may grant you a sabbatical. But realize that there are no guarantees, despite what they may promise when hired. Things change. Sad, isn’t. To earn a PhD, to write, to prepare men and women for ministry is a financial sacrifice you can expect to make the rest of your life. You need to know that now, not later.

    We chose to make those sacrifices. Some people, however, were ill advised, ended up living in perpetual fear of losing their job or got hurt in numerous ways for unbelievable reasons due to politics. These, however, reflect my experiences as well as reflect what I’ve seen over the twenty plus years working within the academy and publishing. I hope this helps. Your desires above are a risk … but so is life itself.

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