Academic careers: Insights from the Principal Investigator Role

Some wise reflections from our Edinburgh colleague (part of a great team who organised a fantastic conference), Dr Sharon Maguire, on last week’s AGCAS conference ‘Supporting the transitions of research students and staff’.

Research student careers blog

visionaryI was at a conference last week on ‘Supporting the transitions of research students and staff’.  One of the speakers was Professor James Cunningham from the Newcastle Business School at the University of Northumbria.  He talked about the research he, and others, have done on what makes a good Principal Investigator (PI).  Although much of this research has been carried out with scientists, you can make links to researchers in other disciplines.  It gives some insight into what you should be aiming for if you want to pursue an academic career.

The research says that successful research leaders are:

  • visionaries, have an absolute clarity of vision for their research
  • mobile, willing to go wherever they will be best supported to conduct their research
  • strategists, have a clarity of purpose and are able to explain (or ‘sell’) their uniqueness and what differentiates them to research funders, Deans (or other senior managers…

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