Use other people’s talent
So how good are you in using other people’s talent? It’s time for self-reflection!
Draw your own web!
Step 1: download and print a clean “web of science”
Step 2: fill in your current grades: very poor, poor, adequate, good, very good or excellent
Step 3: re-fill using your preferred grades
Step 4: define actions to get from current to preferred grades
NoteThe book offers questionnaires which you can use to get scores on the four webs. It also offers a range of exercises which you can try. They will help you defining actions to improve your scores.
You start by finding out what other talented people have published. Read Nature Reviews and Trends journals. You can use ISI Web of Science or Google Scholar to select more papers. Read the paper’s title, abstract and headers, and look at the Figure and Tables. That won’t take you too much time or otherwise blame the author(s). Print the excellent papers and use colour markers to highlight important information and write your notes, queries and comments in the margins.
You not only read but also listen to find out what hot things other people have done. Consider a meeting successful if you have had at least one “eureka” experience, one excellent idea for your research! You should select and regularly visit the hottest meetings in the world.
Listen, but ask if the story is unclear. Ignorant or simple questions are not a sign of idiocy, but of real interest. Stick out your neck, feel the fear, and ask your question anyway! Do your ultimate best to create and cross the bridge between you and the other!
Be open and let other people also find out what you are doing. Share methods, materials, students, funding, (first) authorship of papers, ideas and opportunities. “Open source” will bring you plenty of new opportunities out of which you can select the best bits. You will profit from this attitude one way or another.
Once there is a clear mutual interest, then start to collaborate. Other people with a fresh look can often help you solve your hardest problems in a surprising way. So, collaborate with your supervisor, with other scientists in mono- or multidisciplinary teams, and also with “support” staff. Accept that other people have weak sides, pitfalls and allergies. This and a well-developed sense of sharing will help you collaborate well.
12. Move (on)
New collaborators may expose you to new challenges. Moving can be an excellent way to renew. But move to another place only if there is sufficient potential. In many cases permanently moving is undesirable, but this can never be an excuse for not moving on in science. A sabbatical may be a reasonable alternative.