Doing research feels like a daunting task to me sometimes, as it does to many faculty members. I used to ask myself where I could squeeze in time for research when my time was already so full with preparing lectures and grading. This pressure was increased when a new policy for faculty ranking was approved at my university, requiring a number of research publications to advance in the ranking. In the five years before the policy was created, I had managed to publish four journal articles as sole author, and a book with my father, but I knew I would need to increase my research output.
Luckily, I discovered that I could earn the same points whether the publication was done alone or in partnership with colleagues, so I started to talk to colleagues in my campus to find research partners. As a result, I soon published three journal articles in partnership with two colleagues and partnered with one of my graduate students to publish a journal article together.
At about that time, a colleague from another institution asked me whether I would partner with him to do research together. I happily agreed, and this opened my mind to reaching out to colleagues from other institutions to do research together. As a result of these collaborations, I published two articles with three colleagues and am working with them on a book with a fourth colleague. They hail from three different institutions in two different continents than my own.
These collaborations gave me the motivation to find space in my busy schedule to do research. We had deadlines, we met remotely to keep ourselves accountable, and we produced. It taught me that that real issue was not lack of time, but lack of motivation. Besides the publications in partnership, I was also able to publish three articles on my own. In total, while I had published five times in the previous five years, in the last five years I have published ten times.
If you are facing the same struggle with research and publication as I faced five years ago, I want to encourage you to find research partners within and outside your institution. It will energize you, it will inspire you, and it might even show you that what you lack is not time but motivation.