Thursday, 17 December 2009

Research flexibility

(image by FeatheredTar)

How flexible should you be in your research?

This is one of those questions that I suspect many researchers never (or rarely) ask themselves; often, one can simply progress incrementally through a research career, going where the interesting work is. And that's fine, but I for one think tthat there are benefits to be gained from some strategic thinking in this area.

What I mean by flexible is how willing should you be to move on to new projects, areas of research and entirely new subjects.

By being flexible, there are a number of advantages.
  • You can follow the latest hot topics
  • Your interests may develop over time
  • The interdisciplinary effect (wider skill-set, acting as a vector to transfer ideas from one subject to another)
Of course there are also some downsides.
  • You'll need to build up new domain-specific knowledge
  • You'll need to build new collaboration networks
  • You'll need to build a reputation in th new subject area
I imagine there isn't a unique answer to this question, but I'm also sure that it's valuable to spend some time thinking about thius: Is your research optimally flexible?

1 comment:

  1. This is a very nice post but I have some doubts regarding the final question, as, IMHO, it is extremely difficult to define what optimal flexibility is.