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Academic professionalism

Not surprisingly, this week’s post is somewhat inspired by ‘those’ comments from Sir Tim Hunt.  Let’s talk about academic professionalism.

Is academia an unprofessional profession?

What does professionalism in academia mean to you?  To me it goes beyond the Oxford dictionary definition of ‘the competence or skill expected of a professional’.  It is an attitude; a good judgement and code of conduct that respects the influential capacity of your status.

Your average academic is a researcher by training, ‘professional’ is hardly the first adjective that springs to mind when describing an academic.  Of course we must be professional in our teaching and research but professionalism is also reflected in manners such as your dress, punctuality and interactions with the public and media – the stuff of satire.

Does our freedom and flexibility foster unprofessionalism?  Does it matter?  Does it affect our ability to do a good job, does it diminish our achievements? Strictly speaking, no; but a little unprofessionalism can go a long way.  Just ask Sir Tim Hunt.

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