As the current climate provides an ideal space (and excuse!) to listen to podcasts, I spent some time this morning listening to and reflecting on this podcast by Vitae and Taylor and Francis on the skills researchers will need in the future. The speakers ask what the research world will look like in years' time, the skills researchers will need and what you can be doing now to develop those skills. Do have a listen to it yourselves, but to whet your appetite I thought I'd draw out some of the key points and also share a few of my own ideas, tips and resources.
Digital skills are critical
The speakers, in particular Inger Mewburn of The Thesis Whisperer, strongly emphasised the need for researchers to boost their digital skills, as well as highlighting the need for open science and open access. As well as being increasingly in high demand across a range of employment sectors, digital technology is useful for both producing and publishing research. Blogging in particular has become a popular way of disseminating research to both the academic community and wider audiences, and academics are using social media to circulate and discuss research ideas. Inger Mewburn acknowledged that people can have (often justified) fears about sharing their research ideas on social media, but argues it is nevertheless an invaluable platform for sharing specialised research knowledge. For more tips on using digital skills in and for research purposes, look around you to see what others in your field are doing and check out the training provided by Doctoral Skills and the University's social media toolkit for researchers. Also have a read of our previous post by a colleague from the Library on using Twitter for academic networking. You're likely to find of course that the current situation is providing plenty of opportunities for boosting your digital capabilities, through online supervision meetings, team-catch ups and participating in online training.
Communicate your research to wider audiences
The podcast also talked a lot about the importance of communicating your research to wider audiences. Obviously this is linked to the point above as digital tools are often a great way to do this. There'll be an ever=increasing need for researchers to communicate what they do and how they do it to wider audiences and decision-makers. There are lots of opportunities at Bath to have a go at communicating research to a variety of audiences; check out the opportunities provided by the Public Engagement Unit and the Widening Participation Office. Think out which groups would benefit from knowing about your research and how you can make connections with them. And don't forget that connections you make through your research can often be useful career connections too.
Engage with Business
Again there are lots of opportunities to do this, with business engagement being high on the agenda for both funders and universities. The podcast suggests finding ways to involve companies in your research, for example by asking them for information, interviewing them, and meeting them at conferences and careers events. Also look out for opportunities to engage with businesses through taking part in enterprise activities and research commercialisation; the Innovation Centre provides a wealth of training and opportunities.
Other key skills researchers will need for the future mentioned in the podcast include interpersonal skills, critical thinking and project management. These are all skills you'll be using day to day as a researcher; keep an eye out for opportunities to give them an added boost through activities like volunteering, organising conferences and mentoring and supervising others researchers.