Academic Research Career In Nigeria: Ways Of Becoming Successful
Academic research positions are not all the same. They differ substantially among institutions. The positions are very different depending on what is expected of faculty members. There is a broad spectrum with respect to the amount and type of teaching required as well as the amount of protected time for research, start-up arrangements and additional resources available to faculty members. Therefore, it is expected that you have a good idea of what is most suitable for your goals as you consider the work distribution that comes with the various positions. As a result of the above stated fact, we will look at the various positions you can hold if you want to have a career in academic research before we will look at some of the tips required to succeed.
Various Positions For Academic Research
This is the foremost aspect of academic research. Here, it will be required of you to own a laboratory if it is in natural sciences. You will most likely recruit laboratory personnel as you progress and secure funding for the research. For those in social sciences and Arts, you might not need a laboratory as they perform more with secondary data and survey research. This sounds very easy which it is but it can become very complicated if you don’t get it right. There is actually more to it than meets the eye. For beginners, you have to work on your instincts for choosing good research projects that is of significant impact that obviously has a short term goals that are reasonable and can develop into a long-term programmatic emphases. This is necessary because you need to attract fund from multiple sources and the above listed instructions will test the viability of your research. You should work with senior faculty members who are willing to provide feedback on papers and grant applications. Always seek the advice of colleagues no matter your level for it can always help.
At this stage I shouldn’t tell you the importance of communication to your research. You must develop your writing and speaking skills because you have to be in constant communication with your laboratory staff and students, your departmental and faculty colleagues and professional peer groups. This establishes you as an independent investigator with your own ideas and research programs. Networking and collaborations are also of essence here.
Your ability to manage funds referred to fiscal management skills and the ability to manage your workers referred to as personnel management skills must be honed and developed. This is important for efficient and effective running of your laboratory. You of course are expected to make mistakes as you go on about recruiting your staff. Develop the skill by learning from your mistakes and the mistakes of others
Another aspect of academic research is teaching students. This of course is dependent on your position. You may be required to teach undergraduates and train them in your laboratory. You may also be needed to teach and sponsor graduate students, educate professional students and train post doctoral fellows. You know, getting to give your best especially in conveying information to others requires a lot of practice. Getting your students to reach that level of ecstasy in learning is both challenging and rewarding. As far as teaching goes, irrespective of the size; little or big, you should do it very well. You might want to take your time to make your presentations clear, level-appropriate and relevant.
Training as part of academic research is closely linked with teaching but it is more technical. Here, you are expected to help students develop their own skills at problem-solving, conducting research and writing. This is very fulfilling and rewarding. It has the capacity to create new scientists while also advancing your research. These new scientists can also go on to have a very successful career and make productive contributions which I believe will make you very proud. The important skill sets required here are patience and firmness as you develop the training style that works for you. These skills are important because it is more time consuming to help a student develop independent research skills than simply dictating a research protocol to a technician.
Service is also another aspect of your academic research career. To become a successful member of your faculty, you will need to perform some service for your department, institution and profession. These services can come in the form of manuscript reviews and possibly, participation in the review panels and committees. These services will require you to be active in professional societies. This enhances your career undoubtedly. You are advised to ease into services slowly as your career moves up the lane. These activities can be very satisfying, increase your scientific network and open up new collaborative opportunities as well as enhancing your recognition locally and at the national level in preparation for promotion and tenure. On the other hand, if not properly managed, they can become distractions that make you feel good and useful but ultimately divert your attention from your research and publications which are the primary evidence of your academic research career. It therefore becomes a delicate matter that has to be handled very well.
How To Prepare For Academic Research Career
From all we have written above, it seems that academic career is cumbersome. It sounds like a lot of work are needed which I should tell you is definitely true. But members of various institutions across the world have done it and are doing it, why can’t you do it if you have interest in that aspect. You can do it by developing your style and learning from your mistakes and developing good scientific skills and instincts. You will definitely be heading for successful landing if you have strong publications with a number of first-author publications. Below are some of the things you will be required to keep in mind.
Life continues while you are in training and beyond
Your career path may take some twists, turns and even pauses as a result of personal or financial circumstances or other events beyond your control. They are not meant to discourage you rather they should spur you to do more.
Develop the work ethic, skills and experience
These are the things that make you marketable. Work on them over time and you will master them and perform optimally.
Be Intentional and Decisive about your Career Decisions:
As much as your situation allows, be intentional about your career decisions. Know what you want and try to stick to it. Always make the most of opportunities that present themselves, even if they do not seem to be getting you where you want to be – you cannot anticipate how they will benefit you later on.
Recognize that your research emphasis and career goals may change over time
Certainly your research approach and toolbox will change as you take advantage of new technologies. In addition, you may modify your goals at a later stage in your career. For example, I gradually developed an interest in administration in addition to research and teaching, but only after my research program was well established and my children mostly grown.
You see, there is no particular way doing it. You can be what you want in the academic research field. Know when to say no and when to accept changes. Decisions like this make you and your career.