Lies. That’s what you’ve been told. One lie in particular is why you’re not communicating your work effectively.
Every researcher wants more papers, grants and students. These are the key metrics by which academic “performance” is measured – like it or not.
When you’re young and chasing tenure, every grant, paper and student that you might be able to sneak onto your CV is important.
You know this.
However, the Department Head still calls a ‘planning meeting’ at the end of every session.
There, you get insightful “tips” like: ‘apply for funding from competitive grant schemes’; ‘publish in high-ranking journals’; and, ‘supervise at least x grad students’.
Um, what the hell?!
‘It never crossed my mind to send my next paper to Science or Nature. That’s a tip I can put into use straight away. Thanks’.
But, deep down, part of you wants to be that person: the freak that sends their work to Science or Nature and actually gets it published.
You want more papers, so you can show up at the next conference like a prize fighter.
You want more grant money, because right now you’re broke and need a way to claim back your travel expenses.
You want more students, so that someone might go buy you a coffee and actually listen to you (hey, good luck with that…).
You want your research to mean more than citations. You want it to mean something in the real world.
Maybe, most of all, you want tenure – so you can stop grinding it out year-to-year on soft money.
Where do you start?
How the hell are you going to turn a dozen decent papers into a permanent position?
It’s straight-up daunting. Not to mention that every day you’re getting fuck-all support, but plenty of criticism.
That’s another thing they love to tell you to do, ‘Communicate – it looks good. Everyone should be on ResearchGate, LinkedIn and Twitter’.
That is terrible advice. In fact, it’s the lie.
Why the hell would you waste time “communicating”, when you have 5 manuscripts to finish, plus a grant to write so you can keep getting paid next semester?
To bolster your reputation?
Here’s the thing…
What they’re not telling you is: communicating can really help, it’s just their reasoning that’s a lie.
When you communicate well and have a good online presence, getting more papers, grants and students becomes easier. People start to see you as ‘the person who does ____’.
They invite you to be on papers (by far the easiest way to boost your track record). They get your grant application and say, ‘hey, I know that person, they do _____!’.
They want to work in your lab.
Your pubs go up. You get more cash. You have more students writing papers with your name on them. And so on…
Once you get the ball rolling, you’re golden.
That’s why you should communicate: not to look good, but to make your academic life easier!
Ok, so why can’t your uni help?