The life of research scientists
When we think of scientific achievements, we rarely think of the people behind it and the efforts and sacrifices they have made to make our lives easier, safer and more interesting. We’re talking about people who are passionate about the problem they’re solving, and who inherently live a different lifestyle than we do. All in the name of science.
These experts in their field lead their own lifestyles. Researchers don’t work the usual 8 hours a day and they don’t chase money. They love to work excessively for the privilege of setting their own schedule and having the freedom to travel while successfully advancing their research.
However, to stay and succeed in academia, one must secure peace of mind and enough time and money for research, conference attendance, and visiting colleagues abroad. At the same time they need to build up their reputation in order to establish themselves in the world of academia.
The mind of a researcher
It is sometimes difficult to get a glimpse into the mind of a researcher and understand what it is like to be a moving particle in the world of academia. For this we need to understand what drives these exceptional individuals who dedicate their lives to solving complex problems.
What constitutes a success for researchers, professors and others who work in the world of science? What makes the world of science so fascinating that these very dedicated people care so much about what they do? They often spend long hours in their offices and labs working on very challenging problems that are designed to change our world for the better. But what drives them and what challenges they need to overcome on their path to scientific success? Read on to find out more.
The path to success – the materialistic aspect
The researcher must be Jack of all trades. From being a manager, to writer, to networking expert, the challenges of an academic’s life demands a scientist to wear many hats at the same time. The biggest, maybe not so obvious challenge is securing and maintaining funding over a number of years. This is where researchers step into the role of manager. Grant money is scarce and without it there is no research, but the chance of getting a grant is only a few percent. So what does applying for grants look like? The researcher applies, reapplies, applies elsewhere, researches where to apply, writes progress reports, goes to meetings about grants, reviews other people’s grants. And that’s not the only challenge a researcher faces.
They obviously need money for their research, they need to find a research assistant or build a lab team, and at the same time, they need to keep their freedom so they can continue to focus on research.
Another challenge is to write scientific papers and then publishing them successfully in a reputable journals. Moreover, published scientific papers are a true currency in science. Like the belt in karate, with which one ascends level by level, or the title in chess for that matter. The advancement with gaining titles here – assistant professor, associate professor, full professor – depends mainly on the quantity and quality of published scientific papers. Which consequently also affects the status that researchers enjoy in the world of academia, in their communities.
This brings us to another important area where researchers need to excel in order to succeed – it is networking. Yes, the good old making friends in high places and making yourself known and liked. For ultimate success, researchers must be able to establish themselves first within their respective academic communities. This greatly affects their ultimate success.
For example, if one is an editor of a scientific journal, it may not bring you any or almost no money, but it can help one to gain international reputation quicker. Similarly, it benefits ones career if he or she is a member of various associations or an organizer of important events. It is important to understand that this effort is not about the money, this is a lot of working for free to boost ones reputation. Another example: being a reviewer is an honor, but you never get paid for it! So you see, there is more to being successful in science than just money.
The path to success – the non-materialistic aspect
To fully understand the researcher in science, we need to take a look at the other side that drives him or her, the non-materialistic side. These are people who care deeply about their work. Researchers bring their emotions and feelings to their work and they take great pride in it. They take great pleasure in the feeling when their article is accepted for publication or when they are invited to speak at a conference or when they win a project, and last but not least is the sense of accomplishment when they mentor a successful student.
Writing skills and articulation influence the ultimate success
The thing that makes a person most effective is to be articulate and know how to write. The one who can present its case the best, is usually the winner. And this is very true for researchers who’s big part of their job is to present their case to their public.
The above mentioned challenges the researcher faces regularly, justify the time and effort invested in writing skills. If the researcher is good in writing and is articulate, great. He can go out and about without fear of missing an opportunity. But if the researcher lacks these skills or English is not his first language, then he or she can have a problem that can impact the researcher’s professional success.
In order for the researcher to earn the currency they desire, such as reputation, publishing scientific papers, winning projects or getting funding or to maintain their freedom and have peace of mind, they have to overcome some serious challenges. The closest comparison would be as having to win a gymnastics all-around competition.
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