Introduction to the book and setting of Academia Romance


Short book synopsis
A series of Contemporary Romance novels set in the University of St Andrews in Scotland and featuring characters working at the university. In book 1, Alizée is a French researcher attempting to get a grant to start her own research group. Unfortunately, some colleagues are not being very collaborative and are making things more difficult than they should...

Table of Contents

French

Meta

 

Genre

Contemporary Romance  

Location

Scotland, in the University of St Andrews, a small but ancient university located on the East coast.  

Unique selling point

Romances in a unique setting and with characters having unusual jobs.

St Andrews by spotoftea on Pixabay



Setting the scene

 

The Scottish town of St Andrews and its university

St Andrews is a small town located on the east coast of Scotland, 1.5 hours north of Edinburgh. It is surrounded by the countryside, with the closest big city being Dundee in the north, which can be reached in 30 min—at least, when the bridge above the Firth of Tay is not closed due to strong winds. Despite being in Scotland, the sea winds keep the weather very mild and temperatures rarely reach below -3°C or above 22°C, with averages of 5°C in winter and 15°C in summer.   Only 18k people lives in St Andrews, although many commute daily from Dundee. Around 40% of the inhabitants are students, and many of the rest are working for the university or for the tourist industry. This makes the town very diverse, with 61% inhabitants being born in Scotland, 28% in the rest of the UK, and 11% foreign-born.   St Andrews is famous for being the place where golf was invented and for still having many famous golf courses, as well as for its 600 years-old university, the third oldest in the UK after Oxford and Cambridge. In UK university rankings, St Andrews regularly places in the top three spots along those two.


The world of academic research

"Too many people not enough money" is the best way to summarise academic research. A lot of PhD students are being formed so that funding organisms and charities can say they are investing in the future, but very few academic positions are available for those people at the end. Indeed, in the UK, while 67% of PhD students want a career in academic research, only 30% do stay in academia 3 years on (working as postdocs—post-doctoral researchers), and worse, only 3% end up becoming professors. This means that competition for posts, promotions, and funding is fierce, and that there is a huge pressure to get research results and to publish them in the top scientific journals. A key step in an academic career is for a postdoc researcher to get the funding to start their own research group.


Main character of book 1

Alizée is a French researcher specialised in biochemistry and working in St Andrews. She has lived in several European countries as part of her studies, internships, and work, and she now wishes to settle down somewhere closer to where her whole family is. Several things stand in her way:  
  • Funding is always tight in academic research. This leads to a lot of old and inefficient machines still being around and researchers not always being able to use state-of-the-art methods.
  • Internal competition for limited resources. The chemistry, biochemistry, and biology schools of St Andrews are very collegial, and a lot of equipment is shared. However, this means that time with the equipment and instruments can be limited and that you have to submit to the wishes of their primary owners.
  • Alizée's social anxiety. Speaking to new people is always a problem for her, and she always fears embarrassing herself by appearing stupid or ignorant. This makes even just wandering around the labyrinth-like corridors of the university in search of a new collaborator's office difficult. Thankfully, most people are nice and welcoming, with a few glaring exceptions...

Alizée by AmélieIS with Artbreeder




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Cover image: St Andrews by AmélieIS

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