About Academic Networking?
Volume 10 Issue 1 News & Resources | May 2017
About Academic Networking?
1. Why networking in academia?
One of the most important things for academics is to network with one another. The networking effort is pertinent to ensure we have access to academic resources not available in our immediate surroundings and to ensure we are always in touch with new developments in our field of knowledge, and even to ask for help with regards to our academic tasks. In the background global connectedness, an academician cannot be isolated from the rest and should not choose the path of total independent study, which is, technically, impossible in the current climate of growth of knowledge. For technology-based research especially, a working awareness about the nature and scope research work of our peers will be instrumental to ensure our own research work is relevant and has the potential to expand the boundaries of knowledge. The collaborative nature of sharing research progress needs a solid and comprehensive network of contacts. We make do our stuff locally, but the knowledge will later need to be assessed and shared globally. Without a strong national and international network, we will be doomed right for the start. So, having a social network or actually research-based friends will not be a waste. It will take us far and wide. Trust me. I have done it.
2. How to network academically?
To network in academic setting is not that difficult. There are many ways which could be utilized. As young academics, attendance at national and international conferences would be a good starting point. The opportunities to meet other researchers in similar fields would be a natural establishment of new linkages and peers. The ensuing discussions would have the feeling of relevance and mutual benefits. The new list of academic colleagues meant new circles of influence. The casual meeting at the conferences will lead to formal appointments such as thesis evaluators, visiting scholar’s positions, joint grants applicants and even co-supervision of new research students. In fact, the network may lead to unknown territories unimagined before. The other practical advice is to start contacting possible colleagues at the national and international levels. There is no harm or embarrassing in introducing our good self to others. Without making the first move, the chance of networking may never appear on the horizon. The eagerness to make new contacts in and among the academics will be of great benefits in the long run. The academic circle is just too small and narrow, and we will certainly bump into each other one way or another.
3. What kind of network?
But then, what kind of network will be of utmost benefit. People, by nature, may relate to each other in various forms. As an individual, we may fill into different role in relation to the person we are referring to, i.e. the context of the situation. The most important aspect to be considered for academician is to relate to others by way of common academic interests. These will be a solid platform to leap frog activities to other more tangible efforts. Realistically, one should ensure his inner networking within his organization must first be firmed. The inner circles will be the base for whatever external networking which has been established. Often those who forgot to settle things at home will face many obstacles in optimizing of the broad external networking which has been painstakingly worked on. This holistic approach to networking will ensure one garner sufficient support, internally and externally, to propel far in the academic world. In a nutshell, no network is bad network unless we misuse the linkages. All can be utilized to strengthen one presence in academia. Any news is good news – as they say.
4. What to do with our network?
Now, assumed one has established the so-called academic circles, how can it now be utilized to the utmost? As one progresses in the academic career, one should be aware of the potentials available throughout networked academic colleagues. The relationship is symbiotic in nature. As much as we like people to help us, we must be among the first to lend our hands to others. The way forward for networking is to extend the relationship not just for academic matters. Ultimately from the academic contacts, some may later transform into becoming our long lost best friends. Why not? Better to have many friends than enemies.
As a summary, academic network is a must for all those working in academia. It is never too early to start networking. An academic circle is peer-review promotion sift. Being independent in thinking is great. Being alone and unknown in academia is a disgrace. As much as we would like our knowledge and academic output to do the talking, a great personality will take us much further ahead.
So, just get yourself more linkages to others. You will never know when you need the assistance of others.
Written by :
Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering