ANIE Network | Young researchers need help with academic networking
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Young researchers need help with academic networking

Networking has been increasingly recognised as a vital component of a successful career in higher education. Yet, developing good networking skills is hardly an easy task, especially for early career researchers, who are starting to navigate the vast boundaries of academia and might feel like little fish in a big ocean.

In the era of internationalisation, universities across the world recognise the value of networking in international contexts as a way of fostering research collaboration, mobility exchange and curriculum improvement from a global perspective. But, while established scholars already seem to be part of that successful net of connections, young researchers often struggle to find their own way to build professional relationships that will lead to effective collaboration.

This applies especially, but not exclusively, to those who are at the beginning of their academic careers or do not have enough experience in approaching the ‘big fish’ and end up feeling like they slip through the net and get lost in the water. While their names are still unknown in their respective fields and they do not have tenured positions, networking becomes even more important, particularly insofar as securing academic positions is concerned.

Networking DIY

Initiatives to support early career researchers in building and developing their careers are provided by higher education institutions, as well as local and international research societies. Most international research associations host specific networks for young researchers, including postdoctoral fellows and doctoral students, to promote capacity building, collaboration and networking.

Among the wide range of initiatives, there are dedicated spaces at conferences, seasonal schools, workshops, social networks groups and so on. Those activities are all intended to support early career researchers in building relationships both with peers and with more experienced scholars.

Such spaces are great opportunities to meet new people in one’s own field or from other disciplines, yet effective networking is something more complex than ‘meeting people’ and it rarely happens without a plan.

Although the intention of bringing young researchers together is admirable, often the results are not very satisfying and many people find themselves with lots of contacts (if they are lucky) but very few possibilities of developing future professional collaboration.

Sometimes this is due to a lack of activities that are specifically focused on networking strategies. Nevertheless, the implicit and explicit demand for a local and international network has progressively become imperative for academic development. Continue Reading…

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