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Keys to Academic Success

Posted on May 2, 2006

Focus, be clear, and be mentorable, suggests Joseph R. Calabrese (bio).


There are some keys to success in academia, and I’ll share with you some of them. Number one is the need to focus. Scientific focus is the greatest difficulty that junior faculty have. It is better to have focused and failed than not have focused at all. So in so doing, it moves your career forward, even if it’s not the right topic. So that’s one general take-home message.

Another general take-home message is that the burden of clarity is always on the person applying for or asking for the resources, so this is really important. So if a reviewer of a manuscript or if a reviewer of a paper criticizes the paper, because they don’t understand the findings, no matter how clear you think the findings were, the reviewer is always right. In fact, the reviewer is always right even when they’re wrong, because the burden of clarity is always on the person asking for the publication or the resources.

And then the last thing I’ll share with you is that one of the predictors in a good mentor-mentee relationship is how each work with each other. So the mentor’s got to be committed, but the mentee also has to be mentorable. And what I mean by that, being mentorable is being open to feedback, so keep that in mind.

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Excerpted from an interview with researcher at the 2006 Career Development Institute for Bipolar Disorder in Boca Raton, FL.


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