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Perseverance and Focus Are Keys to Success

Posted on October 19, 2007

Alan F. Schatzberg (bio) gives early researchers practical career advice.


Careers are not linear. It’s not a constant upward success story. People have successes and they have setbacks. They need to be trying a variety of mechanisms for funding. They need to be able to deal with disappointment. They may have to re-apply multiple times for funding, and so momentum and perseverance are very important for success.

Two, I think people really do need to try to, in negotiating with chairs, really have a game plan that they can ask the chair to buy into for providing some degree of support, often during times going from, particularly the fellowship to faculty status, and having solutions, I think, for chairs, is very important, so asking them, saying, this is what I probably need, could you support it, that are realistic. Not necessarily, I am going to pay 100% of your time at a certain salary, that's not support.

The third is that, in starting out one’s own projects, and getting pilot data, whatever, for young people, have, ask questions that are interesting, and that are answerable. They don’t have to be answerable in a definitive way; they have to be answerable in a way to indicate feasibility and potential solutions in the future. So developing kind of pilot studies that are doable are more important early, than developing very large scale kinds of definitive studies which are going to be out of reach, probably, for most young people. So have something that is doable.

Maintain a focus that you can, in fact, build a career on, something that you can be associated with, a particular question, and have that question be of interest. It should be of interest not only to you, but to others.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2006 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry in Pittsburgh, PA.


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