2013-2014 Sabbatical Goals

September 2, 2013

So! Today is the first (business) day of my first ever sabbatical! This is what I’ve been waiting for!!! My whole academic career to date can be thought of as trying to get a sabbatical! And it’s here! Yay!

Of course, a sabbatical is not a vacation (alas). Instead, they are opportunities to pursue activities that require sustained focus or displacement which significantly advance some aspect of our academic career. Writing a book is the canonical example, esp. if it requires (or benefits from) research at a remote site. Obviously, it’s possible to write books while also carrying a normal teaching and admin load, but for many people such schedules are nearly prohibitive.

Here are some (most?) of my key sabbatical goals. We can divide these into two sorts: Recurrent and non-recurrent activities. The former are stable patterns of behaviour I hope to cultivate that are intended to carry on after the sabbatical. The latter are accomplishments that may have effects afterwards but are performed primarily during the year.

Non-recurrent activities

  1. The key goal (and the reason I’m visiting Siemens) is to establish myself as an internationally leading clinical informatics researcher. I’m already in a pretty good position to do this given my expertise in ontologies and ontology engineering, but getting the clinically specific aspects is a big chunk of work. This involves some education (i.e., becoming better read about clinical informatics per se, gaining some comfort with clinical terminology and scenarios, etc.), some research (i.e., figuring out a research programme and laying the groundwork for executing it), and some schmoozing (i.e., learning who the key players are and trying to meet up with them). My stretch goal is that within 5 years I’m a reasonable candidate to be elected an AMIA Fellow.
  2. Give my courses a thorough working over with an eye to making a) executing them less difficult for me, b)  innovation easier, and c)  them more pedagogically effective.
  3. Develop two new MSc programs: software engineering practicum and computing eduction. The latter seems to be happening anyway. The first is something near and dear to my heart.
  4. Brush up my statistics.
  5. Finish some software I’ve left languish (in particular, the Jewel Syntax based OWL Paste Bin; some exam software).
  6. Resolve the book issue.
  7. Publish some sort of philosophy.
  8. Complete a novel.

Recurrent activities

  1. Blog at least once a week. Small stretch goal is 3 times a week. Large stretch goal is 5x a week.
  2. Submit an average of 1 journal paper a month. (I expect this will drop to 1 every other month in normal times).
  3. Submit an average of 1 grant proposal every 2 months. (I expect I’ll dance a happy dance if I get 4 out this year and sustain 2 a year.)
  4. Read an average of 1 paper a day, with notes.
  5. Read one non-escapy (fiction or non-fiction) book a week.
  6. Exercise 4 times a week reaching to every day.
  7. Work on the OWLED community group every week.

So not everything is strictly academic!

One Response to “2013-2014 Sabbatical Goals”


  1. […] colleague, Bijan, is off on sabbatical (lucky) – and before going he’s published a set of goals (below). While I think there […]


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