Early Career Researcher (ECR) according to IBRO are scientists under the age of 45 in an early stage of their career (usually within the last 5 years) as an independent principal investigator. Transitioning into an independent researcher often comes with several challenges. Hence, grappling with finding one’s feet, charting a course / pathway for one’s research, getting funding, conference presentations, mentoring students, getting to publish, etc., has often left several early career researchers in a limbo. No wonder higher rates of anxiety and depression are linked to researchers at this stage of career subsequently leaving mental health and personal lives to suffer. I will be sharing few tips that may be necessary for ECR to thrive in their research as well has create time for personal endeavours.
1. Prioritize activity and manage your time
With several things on your table there may be a need for discipline and I recommend creating a schedule planner to prioritize your activities. This should include time for leisure, family and research/work. Several time management apps are available for free download. Be willing to ask for help from colleagues, families and friends. You may outsource some research protocols to free some time.
2.Take a break
Schedule a regular time to put your research aside. This can be a vacation. Remember when you are rested, you are able to come up with new and innovative research ideas.
3. Build connections within and outside academia
It is easier for ECR to build networks with former PI, lab members or graduate students, while this is very important and necessary there is also a need to connect with people outside of your research area/academia. A social gathering once in a while may help ease tension
4. Celebrate and take note of your wins
This can be you winning a grant, publication, winning an award. Pat yourself on the back as this will always keep you motivated.
Organizational support and implementation of policies for mental health should be encouraged in all institutions especially for ECR. The past two years have been challenging. Always have it at the back of your mind that senior colleagues you admire were once at this stage of your career, this should rekindle your hope that you are not alone.
YIBRO would like to hear more from you and what you do to keep your focus and a heathy mindset, as an early career researcher in neuroscience. Do you have any suggestions for YIBRO? Connect with us via our social media channels and maximize opportunities provided by IBRO for early career researchers by applying for IBRO Early Career Award! See details here: https://ibro.org/early-career-awards/
Olamide Adebiyi, YIBRO APC member