Nobody wants to talk about the difficulties of researchers when they’re first starting out because the field is so competitive. It’s almost as though if you complain, you’re concerned you’ll be replaced by someone who can do everything you can do but without “whining.” The truth is that early-career researchers have always had a hard time getting their feet firmly on the ground, but today’s generations have it much worse.
Challenges begin as early as fellowship and continue on into the field. The paradoxical focus on teamwork while still being “every researcher for their own scholarly reputation” is a fine line to balance, and the mental health impacts can plague a person’s confidence along the way. The good news is that more and more people are speaking out, and recognizing the challenges is the first step to preventing and solving them. Here are five of the most common of these problems, and solutions to minimize them.
Almost all research depends on funding for it to be completed. Studies, lab equipment, staff, and other factors cost money. But getting funding in such a competitive field is a challenge. And even if you’re awarded a grant, you have to be cautious about the terms involved and ensure you remain in control and there are no conflicts of interest.
While there isn’t a “quick fix” for this problem, stakeholders and officials know it exists. There are ideas floating around, and one solution is to create a scientific funding program that would stabilize funds for everyone.
So much of your potential future in your career depends on your scholarly reputation. In fact, the focus on reputation has become such a central concern that many researchers feel pressured to churn out low-quality work just to be able to say they’ve had recently published work.
The current quantitative systems are mediocre at best. The good news is that there are changes in progress that turn the focus away from quantity and over to quality instead. This should give more scholars the time they need to complete well-designed, thorough, replicable research rather than feel pressured to rush their work before it’s ready.
Along the same lines as rushed work due to scholarly reputation is the challenge of poor design in other studies. As a researcher, you rely on previously published work to base some of your data, trusting that the other scientists completed their studies as thoroughly as you did. When their work is questioned later, everything you built yours off of is now potentially less credible, as well.
Because of the pressure to release important, impactful studies, some scholars attempt to control the results of their work through bias or adjusting factors. It sounds minor at the moment, but the consequences can be damaging. Taking the pressure off of researchers to complete ground-breaking work will solve this issue, as well.
Peer Review Issues
Peer review has been part of the academic publishing system for decades, but it’s not working quite as well today. There’s a consistent problem with peer reviewers’ inability to catch fraud or things like experiments that can’t be replicated.
Researchers aren’t given any incentive to complete peer reviews, and these take away from their valuable time. By changing this system and rewarding reviewers to complete thorough, well-documented analyses, many of these problems can be avoided.
Finally, there’s the challenge of publishing for early career researchers. Journals want to work with scholars who already have a strong academic reputation. To get past the initial editor’s desk, a new scientist has to have something impactful.
Open source publishing has reduced this problem, but it’s not solved yet. Until the issues of scholarly reputation, peer review, and funding are addressed, publishing will continue to be a brick wall for many beginning researchers.
How Impactio Can Help Solve These Challenges
As a new researcher, are you ready for your scholarly reputation to grow? Set up a profile on Impactio, and connect with thousands of other experts in the field. As you build your network, your reputation will increase.
Looking for new funding? Impactio is the place to go for that, as well. Funders and stakeholders head to the platform to look for projects to invest in, and if you have research in mind, someone may back you when they see your information and professional reputation on Impactio.
When you’re serious about improving your scientific career, start by building a presence on Impactio.