THE COST OF DOING RESEARCH: A FEW FIGURES

Happily for me, I’ve been commissioned a short book on heterosexuality for the collection ‘Los textos del cuerpo’ (EDIUOC) that the research group I belong to (‘Body and Textuality’, coordinated by Dr. Meri Torras) has been publishing since 2009. I’m now at the stage of putting together a bibliography… and making decisions about how much the book is going to cost me. I’ve already written about paying to read myself (17-11-10) but I neglected to mention the investment of money needed to publish, so here it is.

There is more bibliography on heterosexuality than I expected (basically in English), though hardly any in the Spanish university libraries, not even of the very few relevant Spanish texts –Oscar Guasch’s La crisis de la heterosexualidad, published in BCN, can only be found in distant La Laguna, Oviedo and Castilla-La Mancha. I could use the interlibrary loan system but, even though the project would pay for the cost, I would not be allowed to take home the books in question. Yes, I told my recalcitrant student she should spend more time at the library, but I didn’t mean to read complete volumes. How many people can really do that? If I order through the project the minimum list of books I should read (I’ve reduced it down to 6), they might take months to arrive and I’m in a hurry (deadlines, deadlines…). Here at UAB, by the way, teachers/researchers can buy books for the library but not for individual use (yes, we do pay for the books we teach, inspection copies apart). If you like underlining and annotating the texts that you study, as I do, the only option is purchasing whatever you think you really, really need.

I’ve finally decided to invest on my little book part of the generous 300 euros I made at UB lecturing for 3 hours on, precisely, heterosexuality: 140 were gone this morning, spent on the 6 short-listed books, which still leaves me with half my earnings. Well, not quite, as I’d already bought 3 more books to prepare my UB seminar (which, incidentally, I was VERY happy to teach and would have taught for nothing, this is how committed –or impractical– we are). Whatever I make out of writing the little book will go, of course, into more research or other seminars. No Manolos for me, definitively… I’ve drawn the line, however, at buying a slim volume of just 176 pages, published by a famous British publisher only in hardback and sold at 125 euros (well, 106.88 at BookDepository). This is 0.71 euros a page, much more than I’ll make or than anyone makes, Ken Follett included. I can do without the volume, as there is anyway so much to quote from that I’d run out of space for my own writing. Or I can be appallingly dishonest, and check the coveted volume …ummm… at Google Books, an option towards which the greedy publishers are mercilessly pushing everyone (em, I won’t mention them in case I ever want to publish with them).

Who, except very rich libraries, can afford books like this one, I wonder? I’ve never ordered for our own library a book above 60/70 euros, and even that is an absurd waste of public money. In the future, when I finally buy an eBook reader, I’ll commit countless acts of piracy with no qualms whatsoever. I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like for university teachers in developing or undeveloped countries (that’s a euphemism for you). And to think that our research is judged by standards that only privileged Harvard professors can meet…

One last thought: I understand that other professions also require a high degree of self-investment: I don’t have to wear make up, designer clothing or high heels (oomph, the Manolos). Yet, it is my suspicion that scientists do not pay for their lab rats out of their pockets, whereas we, Literature teachers, bookworms that use no rats, must pay for our research. Curioser and curioser, as Alice said.

2 thoughts on “THE COST OF DOING RESEARCH: A FEW FIGURES

  1. I jump on board only to tell you I wish I could help you and give you some tip, if it helps to make you feel better, you are doing something wonderful and getting paid for it, we students do little remarkable and have to pay for everything! And as you well say you don’t have to buy yourself a high-street-designer suit which may cost over 500 to go into work as I know some got to do.
    Getting ready for play next week; that play Top Girl is hilarious!
    Gloria

    FROM SARA, THE BLOGGER: Yes, of course, students face a hard time paying for their education, which is why so many MUST work, with all that entails. Yet, we teachers somehow are paying all the time for the ‘privilege’ of doing a job we enjoy (well, most of the time), a job that in many cases cost us a long wait of more than 10 years. I wonder how many other professionals would put up with that for what we make. I must remind you that, besides, we got a 5% cut last year… but we don’t get 5% rises when things go well. Andrew Mas-Collel, by the way, has just announced a 10% reduction in the Catalan university budget and that will affect very negatively the quality of the education you pay for.

  2. I guess you’ll have to move Google Books to first place in the list of options, and only buy when there’s really no alternative. I wish, moreover, the books I do buy would come with a bit of shelf attached to them, that’s a problem, space, that Google is also getting to solve.

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