I am interested in expanding my areas of research to a somewhat unrelated field, where less than half of my current competences would be directly applicable. To start collaborating with other researchers in a field, it is necessary to have some experience, and ideally, to have some papers published in that field.

One suggestion that I got when discussing this question with a colleague was to try replicating existing results from a paper, but with a sufficiently different approach to be able to publish a paper with these replicated results.

However, when I was entering my current fields of research, I was not replicating the results of others; in several cases, my research was really novel despite me being just a beginner at that time. But, I had the advantage of being a PhD student with an advisor; now just getting an advisor in the additional field does not seem to be a practicable option (maybe I'm wrong about that).

So, merely trying to replicate the results of others to establish a track record in an additional field of research seems to be somewhat suboptimal to me. Are there any better approaches that I could consider?

For context, I am currently a senior postdoc and work at the intersection of several STEM fields. My research topics are already quite diverse, but the additional field of research that I am considering would be an outlier in terms of similarity.

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    Are there nearby (or zoomable) seminars in the field you want to enter? If so, start attending them, partly to see what sort of work is being done, partly to become known to people in the area, and partly to notice gaps that you might be able to fill with some research of your own. Nov 27, 2021 at 18:50

2 Answers 2


The search for the "most efficient" approach is going to be fruitless. It is seeking the "perfect" when the "good" is enough and will waste less effort. As in many things, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

But you already noticed that you worked better when you had an advisor who you could bump ideas against.

I suggest that you find a way to attach yourself to some working group in the new field of interest. Perhaps you can start one yourself. Perhaps you can find a few people locally or at a conference that draws a lot of researchers. Perhaps your advisor already has a core group that can help you if you can join them in some way. Perhaps a senior faculty member where you are has people in their circle.

Get yourself into a long-term conversation with a group. Bounce ideas off of them. Collaborate on various ideas of theirs or yours. Perhaps you can get a few joint papers. Perhaps you can speak at a conference on the developing ideas. Perhaps you can expand the circle of interest.


As well as the excellent answer by Buffy, find a collaborator who is in that field already and has a different set of skills. You say that you do have relevant competencies, so you can probably find someone in the field who is missing some of those (or has a project that needs more time than they have available).

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