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Develop Your Niche

Posted on January 14, 2008

Jeannette R. Ickovics (bio) explains that depth and scope are vital in research, but niche-building is what secures a national and international reputation.

 

In terms of finding a niche, in my case it was a bit fortuitous. As I said I was writing this review article with my mentor Judith Rodin around women’s health. And it was a lengthy article, and three paragraphs of it were on HIV and women. And I was young and naive but I guess savvy enough to recognize that so little had been done and that there really was an opportunity for me to do some of that niche-building.

It seems that the work, scientific work is replicating exponentially, and so it may be hard to think about, where is my niche and how does one go about developing that? Keep looking, keep digging. It might be a subset, or it might be a niche within a discipline. It might be some crossover in terms of thinking about transdisciplinary work. It might be about some particular focus on a population or risk group.

But I think it is really important because it’s how you can really dig deep and create some depth in your work. You have to really think about both depth and scope, and the niche-building is what gives you that edge, at least in major research institutions where the question becomes “Are you an expert in your field? Are you recognized nationally and ultimately internationally in this area?”

And if the area is too broad, it’s hard to gain that foothold. Whereas if you can create a niche, whether it’s a specific population or disease area or risk group or a different perspective on an area that’s already been begun by other investigators, it’s a way to connect, to collaborate, and to create your own expertise.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher in September 2007.

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