As is so often the case, the answer to that question is...maybe?
I grew up observing Dad the Emeritus Historian of Graeco-Roman Egypt, who published at R1 rates while working at CSU Los Angeles, a campus where faculty carry a twelve-hour teaching load. As a result, I always assumed that the answer to that question was, well, why not? (At the very least, I learned to look askance at assumptions that such things were impossible.) Since then, I've spent 99% of my career at a comprehensive, where I have a nine-hour load. And, as my CV suggests, I've not had much difficulty when it comes to publishing, either. Still, some faculty at R1s have expressed shock/disbelief/bemusement that I seem to be writing quite so much.
The question, then, is: under what conditions does a tenure-track academic at a teaching institution also have an active research program?
As Hollis Phelps points out in the linked article, a teaching institution potentially offers one undeniable benefit: "a great deal of flexibility and self-determination regarding where and what I publish." Publish something, and everyone says, "yay!" Nobody scrutinizes your work to see that you have cited the Approved Sources; nobody cares if you decide, like one of my former colleagues, to change your research specialization from Renaissance literature to the Ancient Near East. (Granted, that's a bit drastic.) If, like yours truly, you found yourself attracted to a subject whose attractions are, I have been given to understand, not always immediately understandable, then you're still fine. (On the one hand, people are reading and citing my work; on the other, I have not yet detected a critical mass of scholars who yearn to specialize in not-always-aesthetically-pleasing Victorian religious fiction, although there are certainly more of us than before.)
That being said, most faculty who maintain active research profiles at teaching institutions also enjoy certain conditions:
- There are books nearby. DtEHoGRE's home institution and actual home are within easy reach (OK, barring Southern CA traffic jams) of UCLA, UC Irvine, USC, and the Huntington Library. This is a dicier proposition for yours truly--the closest research library is the U of Rochester, which is not that big, and it's approximately 100 miles to Cornell--which means that I have a habit of scheduling vacations in the immediate vicinity of places with books in them, buying the books myself, or pestering ILL. However, lots of my research involves books accessible via the Holy Trinity of GoogleBooks, Archive.org, and HathiTrust, which helps immensely, and our library has also stepped up its eBook access.
- There is at least some institutional support. We do have small travel grants, which at least cover airfare, and the campus rewards research with merit bonuses; there are also some bigger grants available on the basis of where you are in your career. Moreover, everyone supports faculty who have a research agenda. By contrast, I have met faculty who teach at places where research receives no acknowledgment whatsoever, or is even positively discouraged. (Many years ago, someone who teaches at a well-known SLAC told me a story about being attacked at his tenure review because he published actively.)
- Committee work is not a graveyard. That should be self-explanatory.
- Faculty-student ratio. During the semester/quarter, a nine- or twelve-hour load will occupy most of your time: there are lectures to prep, papers to grade, works to reread, students to meet. (Oh, and there are also endless committees to sit on.) Some of this can be ameliorated by relatively small class sizes, however.
- Ability to carve out time. Phelps identifies "time management" as key, and there's absolutely no way around this: at a certain point, you have to decide to prioritize some things and not others. This may mean that there's no television in your life (hi), or that you take vacations near libraries (see above), or that you get up early in the morning/stay up late at night, every morning/every night. (The flip side of this is, again, that there's much less pressure to perform, and different standards for what constitutes a research program.) However...
- ...Cooperative family/spouse/SO. For this to work, everyone has to be on board, and many faculty will have necessary personal obligations on top of teaching that rightly override pursuing research. Babies, household maintenance, frail parents... (I'll add that being a singleton has its own set of problems in this situation, as I can't divide up the cooking, housework, maintenance, and geriatric cat care. This means that things just don't get done sometimes--well, aside from the geriatric cat care, as I'd be meowed at pretty harshly if I didn't keep the cats fed.) The cliche about "only so many hours" applies.
- Choice of topic. Early on, my father advised me that at this type of institution, it was essential to find research topics that were actually doable under a lot of time constraints. Scholars who successfully meld working at a teaching institution with active publishing are frequently one-author specialists (e.g., a former colleague who wrote about William Beckford) or specialists in areas not occupied by a lot of other academics (hey there!); alternately, they become generalists or popularizers (e.g., the late Paul Zall). Moreover, there's much more room for textbook writing, as one of the commenters on Phelps' article points out, a field that has the distinction of, you know, occasionally turning a profit.
I've occasionally been asked if being at a non-R1 is professionally disadvantageous when it comes to scholarship. For the purposes of publishing, the answer seems to be "no" (just look at the affiliations listed in many book catalogs, even from prestigious publishers); for the purposes of grant acquisition, the anecdotal answer appears to be "sometimes"; for the purposes of networking, also "sometimes" (although I've only been snubbed to my face once on account of where I teach, thank goodness).