Skills: the inevitable

To successfully play the Tenure Games, I reconsider every now and then what I deem important. Of course, there’s the obvious like publications and grants. But there are also more subtle achievements that may help on the road to a life in academia.

The biggest gap in my knowledge, also essential for my upcoming new post-doc position, would be skills in statistics. I took three stats courses, but during my undergrad studies. I’m afraid I have to admit that I didn’t see the use of it at the time, so I paid just enough attention to pass. If only I had known then how much I’d come to regret that now. I always have to beg others to help me and hope that they know what they’re doing. Which means that securing a place on some stats course will be aim number one for the new job.

Number two would be management. In my current lab, and also previous labs, there’s a remarkable lack of that. I don’t think that any of my current PI’s previous students have found their way in academia. Which should have been a big red warning sign for me btw… I’m convinced these PI’s could’ve made more of their resources and help their students to find their way better, if they had paid more attention to things other than only science. Making management and/or leadership courses aim number two.

I love teaching! My fellowship, in principle, is intended for research. But they do encourage people to participate in teaching. Which I intend to do. I don’t know yet to which extent my new research group will be participating in teaching, but I’m going to volunteer anyway. Maybe there’ll also be ways to get evaluated and grow in this role.

Lastly, I would like to make serious work of outreach. I’m from a working class family and I see so much misunderstandings of science there…. I would love to at least try to make a change! Not sure yet though how to do this; through a dedicated blog maybe? How would I reach my target audience there? But maybe my future supervisor and/or institute have ideas about this, so I’ll let this rest until I’m there.

Do you have other ideas? What would be good luggage to take along on the journey to professorship, apart from publications and grants? I’d be happy with any suggestions 🙂



    1. I hope you will succeed! The only thing I wonder, is how this book will find its target audience? When looking at my family, they read thrillers & fantasy & other things, but would walk past any science book… I find this an intriguing question really.

  1. You must be kidding me! Your posts are the most well thought through and meaningful I’ve read in many years!
    The penguin is my favourite too. I mean, who doesn’t love penguins 🙂
    Regarding this post I have to say that you are reaching out quite well just by blogging here, but maybe it is more targeted to us in academia at the moment. Something that I of course enjoy very much! Speaking of stats.. My stats teacher was always saying that everything in the world is gaussian, you just need enough “n” and he never saw the point in non-parametric tests. Needless to say that I didn’t learn all that much that I wanted. Although he did make stats somewhat bearable, I have to give him that.

    1. Thanks for your comment, you’re too kind!!

      I have to get better with statistics… It’s not that I don’t want to rely on others, but I am never sure they know what they’re doing!

      Perhaps a blog might do for outreach, but then the question remains how to reach a non-academic audience… And it should be non-pseudonymous, if I ever want to take credit for it 😉

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