What kind of researcher are you?

  • The politician. He will get people to collaborate on joint projects.

    How to recognize: He knows everyone!

    Pro: He makes things happen irrespective of the available funding!

    Con: Sends you emails on a Saturday.

  • The manager. His job is primarily to seek funding and recruit students. He supervises the work, setting directions and reviewing results.

    How to recognize: Will often publish with many student authors. Will receive (or seek) generous funding.

    Pro: A good manager can scale well. If you increase his funding, he will produce more results without necessarily sacrificing quality.

    Con: When the manager runs out of funding, his productivity might collapse. He might not stay close to the research: a manager is rarely passionate about the product, as he focuses on the process.

  • The clueless. He does not know what he is doing. He does not understand the business.

    How to recognize: Will religiously follow trends without any kind of critical thinking. Might stay close to a manager.

    Pro: Can be convinced to render useful services.

    Con: Might inflate fads. Will typically produce work of little significance.

  • The dreamer. He has a vision. He might be a perfectionist.

    How to recognize: Might not publish very much.

    Pro: Might just be the person to crack the hardest problem of your generation…

    Con: … but might also produce nothing. Good at wasting funding.

  • The artisan. He builds research projects from the ground up. Routinely, he will have complete ownership over a research project. Extra funding might not increase his productivity.

    How to recognize: Will publish significant work alone.

    Pro: He really cares about his research.

    Con: He might have a narrow focus.

  • The prince. He thinks very highly of himself.

    How to recognize: Though he might appear to be productive, he does nothing that require actual work.

    Pro: He is often dressed nicely.

    Con: Can have a bad temper.

  • The entrepreneur. He wants to change the world.

    How to recognize: Long-lasting focus on hard problems!

    Pro: Can have great results.

    Con: Might become a manager.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

9 thoughts on “What kind of researcher are you?”

  1. I can’t believe the @sarah’s comment is real. My institution is trying to start thinking about having all its administrative, research and everything gender neutral.

    Trouble is that the language they’re willing to change is probably the most sexist ever. We say “1 million de femmes-FEM-PLUR et un homme-MASC-SG sont arrivés-MASC-PLUR” and not “sont arrivées-FEM-PLUR”.
    Yeah, I know it’s like living in a dilbert comics because of course, this is the most important problem of French academia.

    The link with the post? Easy, this comes from an institution where they put unproductive (research-wise) professors in charge of the middle management. So too much free time entails too much crap.

    Syntax is syntax, most notably based on usage established for years, if not century, it doesn’t need to be corrupted by politically correct newspeak. Which will remain hypocrisy until women will earn the same amount of money and get the same career evolution than men.

    Sorry for the rant,

  2. I would guess that you really consider yourself an entrepreneur, since you describe that the most loosely, with the least “con”. This ties into you seeing yourself (forced into) being a manager sometimes.

    I think an entrepreneur is really an all-rounder, with a good smattering of entrepreneur + politician + manager + prince, but less of the artisan.

  3. @fred

    I’m a little bit of a prince except that I dress poorly and I think that I work hard. Sometimes, I can be a politician but it does not happen often. I’m forced into being a manager sometimes but I hate it and I am not very good at it. I’m regularly clueless. I can be a dreamer, though much less so as I grow older. I can be an artisan except that I rarely publish alone.

  4. When I was funded, I functioned in the mode of an artisan, working on narrowly-defined problems.

    When I was unfunded, I functioned in the role of a dreamer, working on the hardest problems of our age.

  5. Another type might be the serial trend setter — a research who is quick recognize and understand exiting new ideas as they emerge, helps lay their foundation through early work and moves on.

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