I'm a different kind of scientist. Or, at least, I feel different.
I'm as passionate about doing my research as I am about sharing what I learn. See, I have a simple guiding principle that defines how I do science. It's my "50/50 Rule."
50% doing. 50% sharing.*
* I need to give some credit to Bill Nye "the science guy" and Randy Olson, "Don't be such a scientist" for the inspiration growing up. Making science interesting and accessible is always a part of sharing it.
I consciously spend half of my time and effort investigating, researching, and completing my work. Then, I spend an equal amount of time sharing it. This could be through reports, posts, presentations, web sites, meetings, conferences, or lunch parties. Any time I have a chance to talk science with someone, I do my best to take advantage of it. And when I talk with "them," I make sure my tone, descriptions, and effort match their level of knowledge on the subject. It's important that they understand what I'm sharing.
It's also worth noting, that I don't mean spend your first 50% of time doing and then your second 50% sharing. These efforts should be synchronous. Keep people abreast of what you are working on so that when you have results your audience is already anticipating and primed.
Now, I've shared this rule with other scientists for years. I often get the same response: "I don't have the time or funding to do those things."
My solution is pretty simple - scale your research expectations and approach.
In science there is a thing called "scope creep." We are an inquisitive lot. We want to look for answers and we usually have a limited pot of money to find them. One problem with looking for answers is it often leads to more questions. What I've discovered through my combination of communication and research is that its best to keep it simple stupid (KISS).
Answer the question ahead of you, promote, market, highlight, share, etc. Then that will lead to more resources for you to continue to answer those other questions. Seeking money for research is hard and time consuming, but good communication and clear results help justify your worth. The more people are exposed to your research the more options you will have for continued funding. Don't just grab a pot of money, hide for three years doing as much work as you can squeeze out of it, then struggle to find more. Aim your research to be small, cheap, smart and clear. Then market the hell out of it.
It's often hard to justify or monetize the value of outreach. But I've seen it time and again. Those who show the most tend to keep getting the most work to do.
Part of the way to separate yourself from the rest is to stand out and do some things differently. Promoting and sharing more is a good start.
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These are solely my thoughts and opinions and not those of my employer(s).