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How to be an Academic Superhero

Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Iain Hay

In universities across the world, academics struggle to establish and sustain their careers while satisfying intensifying institutional demands. Drawing from the author’s decades of observation and experience in academia, this exceptional book responds to the challenges of fostering and sustaining a successful academic career.
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Chapter 7: Make an early impact

Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Iain Hay

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The early years of one’s academic career can be critical to the trajectory and shape of the decades to follow, with your PhD and first five to seven postdoctoral years being especially important in getting established and focussed (see, for example, Laurance et al., 2013). It is in this early phase that you will establish many fundamental professional associations with colleagues, and, importantly, it is a time when you will be signalling to existing and future colleagues your diligence, productivity and collegiality.1 This in turn may lead to productive invitations to give conference papers, review manuscripts, supervise theses and join research teams.2 So, be careful to send the right signals. Think about your longer-term career plan (see Chapter 16) and take on jobs and opportunities judiciously, allowing time for other important parts of your personal and professional life, and making sure you do them well. For example, do try to get papers published but be sure they are in good journals, or produce a monograph with a respectable publisher if you can (see Chapters 18 and 19). Take advantage of the expanding array of early career opportunities to attend conferences and attract research grants. Mingle and make yourself known to your peers as well as to more senior colleagues (see Chapter 9).

If the chance to, say, contribute a chapter to a book, deliver a keynote lecture, assume a professional service role, or work within a professionally relevant community group presents itself, give serious...

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