I am a Ph.D. student (after mid stage) working in theory. I do as much hard work as I can, but there is something I think I am missing. My experience so far is many people don't know what I do and many people don't want to know what I am currently doing. Many of my fellow researchers (Ph.D. students) are very good at organizing various events that happen in the department. I've also tried but have not been as successful. I mean to say: non-research activities also seem to be very important for a researcher and also as an academician.

To be frank, I don't like non-research events very much but still try to give my best. Many professors also know that I am not that good at organizing and managing events, but they always support me. I don't know how much this is going to hurt my career as a researcher and as an academician. I am an introverted kind of person and not that good at talking to other people (especially ones who I meet for the first time).

Question: How to grow in these ways as a researcher? After my Ph.D. I will be looking for postdoc or another job specific to research.

  • 2
    What sort of "events" are you discussing here? – Buffy Sep 8 '18 at 10:37
  • Can the two be combined? For example: an event with talks about research (something you are probably more comfortable with) and coffee and cake (or beers) afterwards for an informal discussion of the research and maybe other subjects. – louic Sep 8 '18 at 10:55

I would describe the areas you're concerned about as networking and service.

While neither of these are critical path for your ability to succeed as a researcher, they most certainly will make you more well-rounded and can help you in many ways, so they are definitely worthy of investing a small but significant fraction of your time and effort.

What I would advise you, however, is that there are more ways to do networking and service than taking a leadership role in organizing events. There are many other types of role that you can ask to take on that can ease you more slowly into such organizations and roles, but which won't push you out of your comfort zone too quickly. Two good directions that I would recommend are:

  • Secondary event organizing positions, such as web chair, publication chair (i.e., the person who turns accepted papers into proceedings), local arrangements chair, tutorials chair, publicity chair, etc.
  • Reviewing for journals and conferences (often starting as a "sub-reviewer" for your advisor or other professors you work closely with)

The professors that support you can likely help you get such opportunities, and from these "training wheels" positions you can start to establish yourself as a known contributor in your professional community and start getting more comfortable with more visible roles and more active forms of networking.


How to grow in these ways as a researcher? After my Ph.D. I will be looking for postdoc or another job specific to research.

Everyone has parts of their job that they hate. For many researchers, including myself, "Networking" falls into this category. A couple suggestions that have proven helpful, at least in my case, or the cases of people I have watched closely:

  • Volunteer at conferences. Some conferences have student room monitors, registration desk helpers, etc. In my experience, beyond getting a break on registration, these are often remarkably good ways to meet important people in your field in a way where there is a natural introduction, and a sort of structured means to exit the conversation.
  • Twitter. While social media is often dangerous (see: many, many public personalities), engaging with your field on Twitter is a decent way to increase your visibility and meet new people - again in a fairly low impact way. There are several people in my field who are far more prominent than they otherwise would be for due to their social media engagement, and I've met at least two of my co-authors through social media.

The best way to grow as a researcher is to do research: ask questions, find answers, disseminate results.

Networking and participation in / organisation of various events are important for your development as an all-rounded academic, but this is more expected at the tenure-track stage. Your postdoc applications will be judged based on your research results in the first place.

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