Just like every job and career has an area of expertise, the same principle applies for an academic researcher. Whether you are interested in science, art, biology, you are going to have to learn a specific set of skills if you want to do the job right. And yes, given your chosen field, you will delve deeper into those designated fields. But there are some things all professional academic researchers have in common.
1. The Ability To Lead A Project
Regardless what field you choose to specialize in, your ability to lead or rather manage the project, will mean the difference between succeeding and failing. But why is it so important?
A good leader always has a solid plan and a backup plan. In other words, you have to take a very realistic approach towards what needs to be achieved, and what it will take to achieve it. More specifically, you need to put together a step-by-step guide on how the project is going to be executed.
Not only is all this planning beneficial to the core of the project, but it's a necessity for funding purposes. Without money, there is no project, and funding comes from investors. However, if investors don't believe in your ability to manage the project, there won't be any money to get the project off the ground.
This is why you want to pay attention to every detail, and anticipate all the things that can possibly go wrong or present major challenges as well. Then, provide ideas on how to handle these challenges. When you speak to an investor, you want to be in a position to answer every single question with confidence.
2. Financial Skills
Handling the budget of a big project is not like handling your monthly salary. When money isn't spent in the right places, it leads to the detriment of the project. Plus, seeing as all the funding involves certain expectations from the investor, you have to be very precise and responsible.
While you won't have all the stress on your shoulders if you are using a good administrative team, you are ultimately the one who takes responsibility for the spending. You are the person who needs to give the final say, and thus, you have to know where it is going.
It goes without saying, every transaction has to be documented properly and stored in a safe place. If investors want to look at the books, especially what you are spending the money on, it won't look good if you only present bits and pieces. Also, keep in mind that this is money that has been raised for the project. This means you have to spend it, just do it wisely. Look at things like staff hiring, salaries, workshops, and basically, stay on top of where the money is going.
3. Be A Team Player And Effective Manager
Even though you are the one in the "power position" so-to-speak, you are going to rely heavily on other people. And this means you have to be able to work within your team while leading the way.
Some things to keep in mind here is that respect is earned, not demanded. You will only get the best out of those who assist you if you are able to bring it out in them. How exactly do you do this? Learn to listen and consider their opinions, because that is why you hired them. They have the knowledge you don't, and you need that knowledge if the project is going to be successful.
In straightforward terms, find the strengths and weaknesses of your team, and lead them according to those traits. And at the same time, give them the respect they deserve. This post from Orion showcases a lot of what is involved in a job in R and D.
4. Organization Skills
If you want to be an excellent academic researcher, you have to be able to organize at a methodical level. Huge amounts of data will be coming your way, many of which won't be as important, but the information still has to be analyzed. And after the information has been analyzed, it needs to be categorized.
The best way to handle this is by planning where all the data and information will be going. Set up designated storage space where everything can easily be found when necessary. In addition, have a backup storage system in place, just in case something happens.
5. Computer Literacy
To make the project easier on yourself, get familiar with a computer and the analytic tools at your disposal. In fact, this skill goes hand in hand with the previous tip. The more you know about software that can aid you in your project, the better equipped you'll be in terms of storing data, as well as analyzing information more efficiently.
New software reaches the market almost daily, and you'll be surprised at how many packages are available related to your type of project. In some cases, you can help come up with a new type of software if you have the confidence to experiment with different channels of research. Anything is possible when you bring the right software into the mix, and it can give your project the powerful foundation it needs to reach the end successfully. Now, this might be a good time to test your computer skills and see whether you need to develop them some more.
Startup Influencer: Top Founders and stories of success.