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Editor’s Note, November-December 2020

I’ll get around to that
Procrastination in the time of COVID

Do you have a paper to write? A presentation or class to prepare for? Having trouble sitting down and getting started? Put that all aside to take a few minutes to read our cover story on … procrastination! According to our regular contributor, Kerry Banks, it’s an affliction that affects many people and appears to be prevalent within academia. Piers Steel, a professor at the University of Calgary, says it may be because academics “do not suffer any immediate repercussions” for failing to produce a paper on time, for example. “They have slippery deadlines.”

The ongoing pandemic – which, at the time I write this is building ominously into the feared “second wave” – no doubt exacerbates the situation. I have read many comments on academic Twitter of professors having great difficulty concentrating and keeping motivated during these trying times. Students, likewise, with the challenges of remote learning are also reportedly finding it tough. On a lighter note, we are pleased to have the whimsical drawings of multi-award-winning Toronto illustrator Graham Roumieu accompanying the article and on the cover.

Also in this issue we have a fascinating, in-depth look at the quest to build a workable quantum computer. And, rounding things out, in our third feature, academic fathers discuss some of the stigma that still surrounds taking parental leave.

Speaking of the pandemic – and I may jinx things for even thinking this – it appears so far that most universities have done a commendable job managing the situation. They decided early on to offer the vast majority of courses remotely and to limit the number of students on campus as much as possible, and that certainly seems to have been the right call. Faculty also deserve kudos for their hard work and dedication adapting their courses. Yes, there have been a few outbreaks and cases of students behaving badly, but for the most part the semester is un folding without major disruptions. It is not the full in-person campus experience that most students imagined and yearn for, but it’ll have to do for now.

Léo Charbonneau