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Active Ingredients of a Successful Research Career

Posted on November 12, 2007

If you have enthusiasm as a researcher, you can walk before you run, advises Roger S. McIntyre (bio).


There’s many active ingredients to a successful research career. I think that one of the more basic ones is enthusiasm and genuine interest. And that’s not enough, but it’s certainly is a great starting point. And also to be aware that you don’t need to in fact in your first couple of experiments or studies have the most magnificent paper of your career. You’re allowed to in fact crawl, then walk, then run.

And I think that teaming up with people that you feel comfortable with is a very important ingredient. In my career I was very fortunate that there were one or two people that I felt very comfortable with in an academic center. People who not only shared some of my intellectual interest, but I think also had some compatibilities with me from an interpersonal perspective in terms of the working dynamics.

And provided an atmosphere that really fostered intellectual stimulation. And I think that each of these factors on their own and certainly taking them all together has for me now into my career facilitated where I am today.

But for young researchers that I meet who come through our program in Toronto and looking for career advice, really I think the starting point is you don’t need to be the expert today. But if you’ve got a genuine enthusiasm and an interest in the field, there’s tremendous opportunities in bipolar, depression research in general.

So few answers are available for so many questions. So it’s an exciting career. If you’re the type of person who likes monotony, and likes the same thing day to day, I don’t know if research is for you. But if you like to be constantly challenged, stimulated, asking questions, looking forward to getting to work, I think that research is perhaps more aligned for you.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2007 International Conference on Bipolar Disorder in Pittsburgh, PA.


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