What ONE thing will make you Brilliant Researcher?

How do you become a brilliant researcher? How do you stand out in the crowd? How do you get cited more often? How do you get your research noticed? Will your research stand the test of intense scrutiny? Is it something you can be proud of?

The answer to all these question so is SIMPLE. It is about standard. It is the simply the Standard of Your Research that makes the biggest difference.

“Champions aren´t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.” Mohammed Ali

If you do poor research nowadays your career as a researcher is finished. Your reputation will be ruined. Research Councils won’t fund your research. You won’t attract quality of people in your field. Industrialists will show no interest in what you have done. Nobody will read your papers. They certainly won’t be cited. You might cite your own papers but will feel terrible about it. You simply cannot do poor research and you should never publish it. Doing POOR research means DEATH as a researcher.

The next level is average research. This is not much better than poor research. It is not the standard you should think about. No one with any pride in their work will ever admit to settling for average as a standard. You must never set this standard in anything you do. You will never get anywhere at this level. Average means SLOW DEATH. You are prolonging the inevitable. It is prolonged pain and agony.

You may be thinking no way I am good and I want to do GOOD research. This used to be the standard every researcher in the UK wanted to set. This was adequate a couple of decades ago. Now the competition is intense. It is coming from everywhere. Competition is now global. Everyone has access to the latest research. Developing countries are investing in research and development facilities. Researchers from these countries are ambitious and hungry for success. They are willing to work all the hours available. Now the global minimum standard is being a GOOD researcher. To survive you have to be GOOD at what you do.

“Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.”  Leonardo da Vinci

So what is the next level after good. It is being EXCELLENT at research. This should be your minimum standard in the UK. At this level you have good facilities for experimental work and excellent computational power. You have access to all the good research journals. The university has the appropriate quality control procedures. Supervision you get is great. There is a steady stream of funding for everything you need. Internet access is excellent. You can publish in high impact journals and get some invited talks at conferences. There are no reasons for anyone in the UK to aim below the level of excellent.

You should aim for the last level. This is what I call BRILLIANT. At this level the rewards are brilliant. You develop a worldwide reputation. You research is published in the top journals in the field such as Science and Nature. It has a big impact. Companies are interested in exploiting you findings. You generate a significant number of patents every year. The work you are doing highly novel and done in great depth and rigour. It is recognised internationally. If we want to do brilliant research we need to maximise our collective brain power. We must work together as a TEAM. Work with your team.

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success” Henry Ford

So the number 1 secret to becoming a brilliant researcher is to do brilliant research. How do you do that? Here are 7 steps.

1. Clearly define what brilliant research looks like for you. How will you know when you have done brilliant research? Read the top journal papers in your field regularly.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

2. Focus on doing work which is completely novel. Do something that nobody has done before. What can you do that is completely original? Find several original aspects to your work. Imagine doing what no one has done before and how it will turn out? Imagine the wide ranging impact it will have? Don’t worry about making mistakes. Learn from them.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

3. How can you increase the depth and rigour of your research. Brainstorm ideas on how to do this and then try to implement the best ones.

4. Can you find ways if tying up the fundamentals/theory with experimental results or models? Could you relate it to real applications that will have future impact on our society and the environment in which we live?

5. How can you analyse your results in as much detail as possible? Does this analysis give you new insights?

6. How can you increase the impact of your research? How can you bring it to the attention of the scientific, national and international communities? How could you involve industrial companies?

7. How can you maximise the use of brain power of all your colleagues and contacts? Ask questions and dialogue what you are doing. Get feedback on how to improve your research. Work together.

The 3 key words for doing brilliant research are NOVELTY, DEPTH or RIGOUR and IMPACT. Remember these and your will become a brilliant researcher. So set brilliant standards for yourself and I’ll see  you at the TOP.

What do you think makes a brilliant researcher? Please add comments

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