Hello everyone, this post is different from my previous posts on systematic reviews. In this post, I will share those skills that helped me grow as a researcher, and those that I learned/still learning during my PhD. These are a few skills that you should try to acquire while carrying out your research. Hopefully, it will be useful for you and will improve your career prospects 🙂
So let’s begin,
- Be patient – I was not eager to write this as a first tip, but, it is one of the most important skills for any researcher. I was and still, am very impatient and want to do everything at once. I gradually learned to slow down and give adequate time for everything to fall into its place. Being patient not only helps you to keep your cool but it also improves the quality of your work. Research done in hustle is likely to have more errors and flaws. When you are patiently giving time for something at hand – then you get to think more about the problem and find different ways to solve it.
- Be passionate – Passion is the fuel for the topsy turvy road of research. If you are not passionate about your research or not ready to undertake the never-ending problems encountered in every research field, then don’t jump into it. Passion will help you face those days when nothing works out, or you get failed at every attempt. With passion and focus, you can overcome the gigantic work required in a PhD.
- Be curious – Always be keen to learn something new because research methodology keeps evolving and you will have to keep pace with it. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ in research. There will be different study designs, different ways to collect data, new ways of analysis, new ways to approach a problem. Being curious will help you improve your research skills regularly. Try to learn at least one new concept every day, no matter how trivial it is.
- Keep reading– The more you read, the better you will be. It is not something new, but we often tend to forget it when we get too involved in other deadlines and tasks. If you can’t read every day due to your work schedule, then try to keep one day off only for reading and updating to the latest research in your field. It can be boring, but you can befriend your coffee 😉
- Help others– Try to help your friends and juniors as much as possible, I am not saying to leave your work and help them throughout the day but if you get an opportunity to share your knowledge and skills with others then don’t miss it. It will make you very clear about your expertise as well as areas where you need to improve. It will also give you a different perspective of the same situation, which you would not have thought of before. Every time I helped someone in their research work, I have learned something new in the process.
- Plan and organize – Of course, this is the most common advice we get as a research student, but still it cannot be understated. Lack of planning and organization will delay your work extensively, and you may end up being demotivated. Poor organization and time management can affect (in a negative way) even the best of research ideas/work. So, know your timeline, follow it and STICK TO IT!
- Meditate – This sounds a little off-track, but it is one of the most powerful techniques which I learned recently. It significantly reduces your stress level and enhances your focus. If you are not a ‘meditation-type’ person then you can be mindful for a few minutes each day. It gives you clarity of thoughts and sets the tone for productivity.
- Presentation and public speaking – It is a very common fear which we all have, but good communication is a much-required skill in research fraternity. You should be able to present your work, convince others about its impact and also collaborate if required. These skills develop over time and with practice so don’t be disheartened if you do not have the confidence in public speaking yet. You will learn it if you try!
- Keep writing – We all are pleased to see well-written articles and wonder if we could ever write like those authors. It is an essential skill to develop as a researcher. It is required everywhere, for protocols, for grants, for publications, for collaboration, so on and so forth. Our words are our biggest strength. So, keep writing until you get it right.
- Be dedicated – I chose to write it as the last tip so that it stays in your mind for long. You will have answers to all your problems if you are dedicated, not literally, but you get the idea. Dedication will help you climb the ladder of success. It is required to maintain the brilliance of your work and gives you a chance to improve it with every step. So, don’t take it easy and casual.
There are many more skills that you have to develop for becoming a successful researcher. But, I feel that these ten tips are central in the journey of young researchers. I hope you enjoyed reading it.