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New Year Research Goals

Whether you are already REF'd out or fresh off the PhD boat then here are some helpful tips to get research plans on track in 2019.

As time management goes I'd like to think I am 'on it'. After all doing a Masters Degree and PhD whilst still holding down a demanding full time job you just kind of have to. I'm sure there are a few of us out there feeling the same, so I have put together some ideas to help kick start the planning process...

Ask yourself some basic questions

What do you want out of your academic career over the medium and longer term?

All work and no play doesn't work for me but for others an academic career is all-consuming love affair. Whatever floats your boat I say, there is room for all. So what is it that you actually want or, in other words, where do you see yourself going with this career path? For me, I want to take a balanced approach. I enjoy conducting research - its my passion, I also enjoy leading academic programmes but I do like to work with my industry clients too. So my first rule of thumb this year is not say yes to every project that comes my way. As tempting as that is for an early-career academic, for me I don't want to be spread too thin on stuff that I am not 100% on board with. In terms of longer term career goals, that means I want to continue have a balance between academic and industry projects. I came into academia later in the game, I'm a hybrid and I know I'm a better educator and practitioner for it.

The next step to think about is translating your longer term goals into medium term consider if that means working towards your next promotion, getting your first 3 star publication or simply getting your first article in the bag and a few citation notches on google scholar. For me, this year, I'm on the case. I want to see the fruits of the PhD and get a few other projects on the burn.

What do you want to be known for as a researcher?

For me I am principally a researcher in fashion consumer decision-making so all of my projects align with this. I also research on the subject of omnichannel retailing and customer journey but this is the context rather than the core of my research. Think about your research as an onion (a nod to Saunders et al) what theme is at the core of what you do?

Which network do you want belong to?

You want to focus in on listening, contributing and participating in the right research conversations. Who are these for you? My research fits within the fashion retail domain rather than mainstream B2C marketing for example. So my efforts focus on that area. If I recruit PhD student or participate in external examining or guest lecturing it will be focused on the fashion marketing and retail domain - it's my passion and I love talking to students and fellow scholars about it. You want to maintain your focus on this too. So draw up a list of those conferences, conversations, journals, twitter accounts, blogs and interest groups and actively participate in them. It's about thinking what areas are in the scope of your subject area and which of those are outwith (a bit like the PhD). What you don't want to be is... as the saying goes... jack of all trades and master of none.

Now the thing with all this planning business is that we can still be tempted to look at the success of others, whether in the academic or professional sense. You need to remind yourself that you are on your own career path. So celebrate the success of others fully, be their biggest advocate and don't give yourself a hard time if you feel that you are lacking in your own accomplishments - you need to remain focused on your own journey. Things will come in good time - even if that's 6 years down the line as it was the case for me in juggling work and the PhD - you'll be a better person for it. So whether you are a mature student starting your phd journey part time or going straight from your undergrad to your masters/PhD full time, then that's ok. You are on your own research journey and remember that's what makes your contribution and viewpoint unique.

Another post will be winging it's way next week to help you turn these goals into something even more robust. In the mean time tell us your tips for research planning in the new year. You can tweet me @drsamlynch on Twitter.

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