Did you know June 1-8 is National Medical Research Awareness Week which aims to help raise awareness of Medical Research. We’ve included an article here (first published by the Australian Society of Medical Research) discussing the psychology of high performing researchers.
It’s the thought that counts: The psychology of high performing researchers.
By Dr Maria Gardener, Thinkwell
I have spent many years working with high performing researchers and research groups. Despite these groups being productive and performing well, I realised there were still a lot of things being left to chance. The groups succeeded and did well, largely as a result of the talent and hard work of the researchers involved. Often there wasn’t much time, (because there wasn’t much available!), put into being strategic. So my work with researchers has largely been about getting them to think and act strategically about their research and about themselves.
Being strategic about your research might mean thinking about what you are choosing to work on, what your specific plans are in terms of future funding and setting targets for publications. Also who are or could you be working with? As a colleague of mine from Flinders University, Professor Mike Bull says of co-authoring “two people means half the work and you still get the same credit – it is a strange currency.” With a bit of thought, guidance and planning, it is possible for researchers to improve their successes by being more strategic.
So that is being strategic about the work, but what about in relation to ourselves? In my experience many high performers I have worked with, who are usually busy and juggling multiple competing demands, just do the next thing in front of them. People make the decision of what to do next based on how they feel rather than rational judgement. How often have you sat down at your desk with a huge list of things to do (including a paper that you have been wanting to finish for the last month) and just opened your emails and started working on them? In no universe will that help you finish that paper! Sadly, an ability to manage yourself well is not very closely related to how intelligent you are. High performers are just (and often more!) prone to things like perfectionism, procrastination and career-limiting overcommitting as anyone else.
By understanding how to improve the accuracy of thinking, high performers can reduce these type of behaviours and move closer to peak performance.