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18 Essential tips for early career researchers in 2018

Andrea Hayward | Dec 29, 2017 | 1,663 views

It's almost time for us all to welcome in the year 2018. As we approach the end of the year, most of us tend to reflect on the bygone year and mull over whether we've managed to accomplish all that we had set out to achieve.

As a researcher, you are forced to multitask constantly and deal with different aspects of your academic careers: conducting research, preparing your manuscript, submitting to journals, staying updated about all that is happening within your field, attending or presenting at conferences, amongst other things. All these could get muddled as you struggle to stay on top of all your priorities and have a personal life as well. The pressure to meet deadlines and attain the goals you have set for yourself can be one the biggest sources of stress unless you plan well.

If you are already thinking of what you want to do in 2018, why not approach with a plan! How can you make the most of the time you have?

We have come up with 18 quick tips to help busy researchers plan their way to being successful in 2018. The video above touches upon all the activities and a mental approach which will be essential for you to realize your goals. Here are 18 essential tips that will help you make 2018, a productive year:

1. Visualize: Set achievable, tangible & measurable goals. To be able to measure your success against your goals, you must first clearly define your expected outcomes.

2. Organize: Organize your time, daily tasks & work space. You can't expect to be productive if your workload is cluttered or if your desk is always a mess.

3. Schedule: Create weekly and monthly schedules to stay on track. This will ensure that you aren't distracted away from your goals by irrelevant ad hoc tasks or projects.

4. Reflect: Do a timely review of your goals and assess your progress towards them. If your existing plan does not seem to support your goals, then change your strategy accordingly.

5. Be patient: Always stay focused and calm, even when you are faced with setbacks and challenges. Remember that there are no shortcuts in research. 

6. Collaborate: Collaboration in research is a great way to grow and learn. 

7. Learn to say no: Collaborating with colleagues can surely be rewarding in certain cases. However, you need to learn to say no, if favours for or requests from colleagues are eating into your own time.

8. Carry a notepad: Great ideas can come to you anywhere. You don't want to be scampering around trying to pen down your innovative thoughts on napkins or other makeshift pages. So be prepared!

9. Read avidly: Make sure that you follow and are on top of the latest research within your field.

10. Write: Assign yourself time to write about your research. Your schedule might be more hectic than you anticipated. But you should avoid deprioritizing writing.

11. Pay attention to detail: Learn to proofread your own work. Any obvious or glaring language-related errors in your paper could result in unnecessary delays to publication.

12. Plan early: Be sure to apply for funding as early as you can. 

13. Network: Attend a conference or two. Academic conferences can be a great way to meet new people within your own field. 

14. Go social: Learn to effectively use social media to promote your own research. Find out which hashtags or Twitter conversations are relevant to your field and follow these closely.

15. Ask for help: Don't hesitate to ask for help if you can't seem to find your way around an obstacle. Remember that no doubt is too small or silly.

16. Be ethical: Never engage in any unethical research or publication practices. Your integrity matters more than anything else!

17. Don't fear failure: Even some of the most esteemed minds in science have had to deal with failure and rejection at some point in their careers. It's all part of your journey as a researcher.

18. Make time for yourself: With a hectic schedule and an overflowing workload, it can be easy to neglect yourself. Be sure to eat healthy, exercise regularly and make time for your hobbies.

There you have it: 18 tips to help you make the most of 2018! 

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