Researchers sometimes think that career opportunities will come to them through hard work and brilliance. However, researchers need to pursue and create career opportunities and sell themselves to either academic and non-academic employers like everyone else. Your research only becomes valuable when it is presented at a conference or published through a journal. It is at this point that you start to articulate the implications of your research and to make a contribution to your discipline. A successful career in research is only open to those who are able to communicate effectively. This ability places them at the centre of a research agenda as much at their technical research skills.
‘As a graduate student preparing for a career in research, you have two jobs: (1) do some good research, and (2) build a community around your research topic.’
Phil Agre, Networking on the Network (2005)
So as a researcher you need to learn how to promote yourself and build up a network around your research. The people you present to and discuss your research with will usually be those who work in research areas close to yours, but as you become more confident you may engage with less expert audiences. Engaging with the media and the general public is an important, if challenging, part of your role as a researcher.
- Presenting your research discusses the formal ways in which research is presented
- Networking looks at the informal ways in which the research community operates
- Public engagement looks at when and how you should move beyond the research community and take your research to wider audiences
- The section on knowledge transfer in our research staff section discusses other ways in which you can raise your profile by being proactive and enterprising.