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Discovering your research brand

What is a research brand?

A research brand was defined by Jeffrey McDonnell as, “your central mission: the particular branch of research you’d like to be truly excellent in and known for.” It’s important to have because it helps you stay organized and avoid some pitfalls of wasting time, energy, & resources that some junior investigators may run into.

How to pick a brand?

First you want to connect your brand with your advisor or mentor’s research brand. There should be some similarities but they should be distinct from each other. The next step is to find the right amount of depth for your brand. It shouldn’t be too broad because then you’re not very unique in the scientific community. It shouldn’t be too specific either because then you limit yourself.

What’s next?

Spreading your brand identity is pretty simple from this point, but requires a lot of hard work. McDonnell states that you should, “get good results, publish papers, and give talks that all map to your theme.” Many people don’t spread their brand identity enough. Writing commentaries, giving talks, making the most of attending conferences are some acknowledged ways of doing so. It takes commitment and consistency to do these things and you should aim to spread your theme as much as possible.

Why it’s important?

Having a research brand helps you understand what’s important to focus your time on. If an opportunity arises and it seems great but doesn’t fit your brand, it’s ok to decline. Having a research brand gives you an identity in which you can create a map of the subcategories you'll be focusing on in the near future. Later as a senior investigator, it can be used to identify you as a specialist and summarize your work for colleagues and the general public.

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