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The Academic Scientist. Kenneth Ruud Prorector for research and development. The a cademic scientist is not what it used to be (and probably never was). The academic scientist: Runs a research program Writes research papers (Runs a research laboratory) Teaches

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the academic scientist

The Academic Scientist

Kenneth Ruud

Prorector for research and development

the a cademic scientist is not what it used to be and probably never was
The academic scientist is not what it used to be (and probably never was)
  • The academic scientist:
  • Runs a research program
  • Writes research papers
  • (Runs a research laboratory)
  • Teaches
  • Reviews papers/research grants
  • Supervises Master/PhDs
  • Mentors postdocs
  • Writes grant proposals
  • May be involved in start-ups
  • Disseminates her/his knowledge
  • Is involved in recruitment work
  • Is involved in research administration and strategy

Many of these tasks, you will not be trained for

a successful research program
A successful research program
  • Has a distinct mark which is yours, and not your supervisor(s) (but possibly a synthesis of the profiles of your supervisors)
  • Has an impact, often by being in the lead
  • Trust yourself: It can be lonely in the lead, but if the potential in the field is large enough, it will eventually become important
  • General topics may often be more competitive but will have a broader impact
  • Build on your competence, but expand your vision
  • Make yourself an attractive collaborator
  • Allow freedom for your coworkers (PhDs/postdocs/researchers)
writing skills
Writing skills
  • As an academic scientist, you will have to write
    • Research papers
    • Grant proposals
    • Reviews
    • Teaching material
  • Determine how you best write
  • Do not underestimate the importance of clarity in writing, in particular in research proposals
  • Do not overestimate the reader
  • Know your targeted audience, in particular for research proposals
communication skills
Communication skills
  • Many groups work on similar topics, and breakthroughs may come close in time, triggered by recently published work
  • One thing is the publication date, but having the arena to communicate also important
  • Although history eventually credits the right person, in “present time” the preferred invited speaker holds an advantage
  • Know how to present your research
    • Decide level based on audience
    • Never overestimate the audience
    • Normally advisable: Present a story, be clear on take-home message
the required academic cv
The required academic CV
  • Because the job of an academic scientist is so much more than only science, showing competence in a wider area is important:
    • Reviewer experience
    • Experience as member of PhD committees
    • Having secured external funding
    • Research administration
    • Teaching
    • Supervision
  • Nevertheless: These secondary skills should be on the CV, but quantity is less relevant
  • What matters in quantity is publications
  • Be mindful about building a coherent research program, that has you “signature”
know yourself as a scientist
Know yourself as a scientist
  • Decide on your level of ambition
    • How do you like to work?
    • How wide a recognition would you like to achieve?
  • What kind of a scientist are you?
    • The expert who solves everything yourself
    • Prefer working in teams, with expertise in a specialized area?
    • The research organizer, having a broad knowledge field
    • The policy maker
  • Do you want/need a group, or can you/do you prefer to work alone?
how do you succeed
How do you succeed?
  • Always visit a new lab during/after your PhD
  • Pick a postdoc mentor in a complementary field
    • Close enough to allow you to publish seamlessly
    • Different enough that you learn new skills and can use the combined expertise
  • Work hard, but more importantly, work effectively
  • Learn additional skills
  • Understand review processes
  • Make writing “easy” (or at least not too time-consuming)
  • Learn to communicate your scientific vision
the checklist
The checklist
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the audience (at talk, in classes, in grant proposals)
  • Get your priorities straight
    • Important to get certain skills, but focus on what you need to do
  • Learn when to say no
  • Be thoughtful about networking opportunities