The future of work is changing. Whatever anyone engages in, there are new skills that need to be applied. When human resources experts talk about the future of work, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning usually dominate their thoughts. What this means is that an average human being is expected to be smarter and work more intelligently.
Being a university teacher is one of the most arduous tasks anyone can take up in the world. An average lecturer is also a researcher. He is expected to publish or perish. In a bid to advance far in the course of being a university teacher, the mantra is you either publish or perish. But now, the thinking is moving away from publishing alone. How a researcher does make impact in the society and address their empirical work to solve societal problems? Every university teacher understands their commitment is to three core areas – teaching, research and community service. So, how does one advance the course of knowledge and still be impactful? This is the main question the write up focuses on. The essence is to talk about those skills that the researcher of the future must possess. Thus, this is a review of an article generated for the purpose of calling the attention of the fourth industrial era researchers to those needed skills.
#Research Communication and Public Engagement. This is a necessary skill for every researcher who seeks audience beyond the academic circle. It is the ability or skill that enables a researcher to explain the outcomes of research to the layman audience without the academic jargons. If the essence of research is to solve societal problems, then research communication is a key skill that must be warehoused so that those on whose behalf studies are carried out appreciate and understand their importance. When next you are publishing a research article, think of the way to also communicate to the public and engage members of the public on it.
#Research Collaboration beyond the Academia. For the researcher of the future, collaboration is the keyword. Dubbed Town and Gown collaboration, it is meant to imply the extension of research beyond the network of the academics alone. Researches that are relevant to businesses and industry, government, non-governmental organizations, policy makers and other stakeholders require collaboration. So, as a researcher of the future, you are expected to create a network of collaborators beyond the four walls of the ivory towers. There are several ways to do this – seek external advice from them; interview them as part of your research; see how your research fits in with their product development or engage them through career events.
#Use of Digital Tools. Any researcher of this era should understand that many of the hitherto research processes done manually have now become digital. From data collection to analysis, there are open source and free software used to carry them out. Not only that, for wider dissemination and far reaching impact, a researcher of the future learns how to use the social media, academic blogs and even YouTube to call public attention to their latest scientific investigations. There are a number of other digital tools that are very useful.
#Open Research Practices. This is the latest trend in academic research. As opposed to a close research culture where researchers publish the outcomes of their research in subscription based journals where access is premised on the payment of certain amount, there is a focus on open research now where researches are shared openly and publicly. The open research practices come in different ways. It could be publishing in open access journals, sharing research outcomes on social media or even making the data collected available on designated repository. In whatever way, the aim is to be open and make research information available to those who need them.
#Media Relations Skills. A researcher of the future does not only know how to carry out valid research, they must understand the intricacies of communicating it with the public. One of the ways to do this is through relating with the media. This in PR terms is called media relations. This will involve writing press releases or statements and sharing such with the press. It may also include calling a press conference to disseminate the findings of your study. There are mainstream and online media outfits. The researcher of the future must learn how to relate with the media to publicize their findings.
#Popular Article Writing. These are different from the usual scientific article which could only make meaning to the people in the academia. It involves interpreting outcomes of research in a way that is understandable to the general public. It is a craft of using data to generate articles and it involves some skills. Writing popular article makes a researcher known in the field. It also makes a researcher a thought leader in both the academia and the industry. A researcher who has the ability to do this has successfully mastered the art of being a researcher that is impactful beyond in the two worlds.