This article explores how a group of teaching-oriented academics-College English (CE) teachers in China-negotiate their collective identity at the workplace amid research discourse. Drawing on an integrated theoretical framework focusing on the interrelationship between discourse, practice, and social networks, the study reveals the field of research where CE teachers lived imbued by multiple, dynamic discourses and power relations, i.e., the discourse of illegitimate pedagogic research v. the discourse of officially valued research, the discourse of the lower-status department oriented to teaching and public service v. the higher-status, disciplinary department. Drawing upon discursive resources, CE teachers positioned themselves as marginal pedagogic researchers and inferior CE teachers. Meanwhile, CE teachers constructed their identity-in-practice as pedagogic researchers by developing a pedagogic research community through their daily teaching practice. The contradiction between identity-in-discourse and identity-in-practice suggests the complexity of teaching-oriented, public service-oriented academics' professional life and the predicament they face, such as the limited access to research networks, and the lack of shared understanding in constructing a pedagogic research community. The study argues for more attention to be given to these academics who occupy the bottom of academic hierarchy in higher education context and might be the most vulnerable group in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.