The other day, a colleague asked me if I would be interested in collaborating on an article.
Yes, indeed. I’ll need another publication by the end of the calendar year.
The topic was similar to a topic I’ve been puttering with, so I started doing some research and uncovered some information that connects with another project. And what I found piqued my interest in the older project.
There’s an idea hibernating in there. Every so often, I poke it with a stick and it stirs, stretches, and resettles itself. But so far, it hasn’t awakened and turned into something publishable. I can’t force it to wake up; I just have to prod and wait.
As a grad student, I thought that I’d have lots of ideas and research projects when I became a professor. It hasn’t turned out that way. I do have ideas, they do follow some general themes, and I do find ways to publish and maintain my qualifications, but there isn’t one big carrot-on-a-stick problem that gives my professional life meaning and purpose.
So it’s a little intimidating to consider what to say if someone asks, “What’s your research program?”
The very term “research program” suggests a kind of deductive approach to a professional career: starting with a general idea, thesis, specialty, or focus and developing it through specific projects. But I think I’m more of an inductive researcher: each project reveals a bit more of an overarching theme.
Well, that’s off my chest. Now to work!