It’s worth taking an inventory of your institutions:
How is teaching evaluated at your institution?
How is teaching effectiveness recognized?
What resources are available to improve teaching?
What kinds of research receive the most attention at your institution?
What forms of research have yet to achieve recognition?
What is the degree of scholarly output that is expected for tenure and promotion?
To what extent is the balance between teaching and research practiced?
Who does the academic advising at the institution? If the faculty are responsible for it, what training and support resources are available to you? How much time will you have to plan to devote to advising?
How much service and what type of service will be expected for tenure? Are department committees enough? Or do you have to contribute more broadly to the university? Are you expected to provide service to the community or to the profession? Will they be counted if you do them?
Attitudes toward research culturally and institutionally dependent. For example, you may work at a college that values digital research or collaboratively produced scholarly monographs and essay. Or, more likely, you may work at a college that has yet to recognize such endeavors. How do you proceed, if your inclination and training lead you to blaze new pathways in the digital humanities but without the payoff of tenure and promotion?
Or you may work at a teaching-intensive college where research is not prerequisite for tenure and promotion. Indeed, research may be viewed as diverting your attention (your time) from classroom instruction, or may be viewed reductively as too far theoretical, too far removed from instructional and institutional matters. How do you proceed under those conditions, if you wish to construct a research agenda and career trajectory?
View your research as inquiry-based and as problem-driven: in other words, allow your curiosity and interest to drive your research question
While your research may take you along any number of paths, consider focusing on classroom and learning matters: in other words, establish a relationship between your teaching concerns and your research interests—what works? What isn’t working in your classroom? Keep a teaching log or annotate the work that you do in the classroom.
Become acquainted with the literature of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) and begin to network among SoTL scholars/practitioners
Find like-minded teacher-researchers to collaborate with you on conference presentations
Become familiar with your office of Institutional Research
Enlist the aid of students: so much of qualitative work is driven by the artifacts of the classroom. Seek out students’ consent to use student work in your research and perhaps to collaborate with those students on panels and in joint presentations/publications
Carve out time in the summer and during intersession to read up on the problem and to draft presentations/proposals/essays