I thoroughly enjoy researching. I find thinking of a question that I want answered and then developing a research project to answer it exciting. Not even the PhD experience impacted my research curiosity and passion. However, as I have mentioned in some previous posts, I have a teaching academic position. Which I love, although it does mean that I have very limited time to research. This does not stop my mind from continuously thinking of new research opportunities, so I have to find a way to capitalize on these ideas and turn them into projects and manuscripts.
Here are my tips.
- Have a research list– I have a list of research ideas on onedrive. I use an excel spreadsheet so that I can keep track of different elements of the research ideas. This includes who I am collaborating with on the paper, which stage of the research I am up to (e.g. planning, ethics, write up, publication), and potential journals to submit the research to. I keep a list, because I will forget all my great ideas if I don’t and it allows me to see how I am progressing.
- Collaborations– This is easier said than done, especially when you are an early career academic, but seek multiple collaborations. This not only allows you to work on different projects simultaneously, but we learn so much by working with different people. Increasing collaborations and networking is something I am intending to work on next year.
- Try to have projects at different stages– I like to try to have a few projects on the go at once and be at different stages of the research cycle for each of them. For example; I currently have one project at the final drafting before manuscript submission stage, one project at data analysis stage, one project has just had ethics submitted, and I am in the early stages of planning another. This keeps me motivated and interested (rather than being overloaded with data analysis for 4 projects at once).
- Use your time wisely- As a teaching academic, who teaches 8 courses per year, I basically have no time for research. In particular I do not have the ability to block out entire days or weeks for research. I am also very passionate about not overworking myself anymore so I don’t want to work in the evening and on weekends (as a general rule). Therefore, I use any small amount of time that I have throughout the week, and have learnt to be productive even in short periods. For me, as a lot of my role involves responding to emails, I find that my mornings are always busy. However I usually get time in the afternoons, which is when I can chip away at research.