Browsing the archives for the research tag.

Smack-down: Scientists versus practitioners

Random, SIOP, Uncategorized

Geeks are people with deep technical expertise.  So most geek fields have a strong research and intellectual foundation.  This often results in having two general categories of people working in the same area – scientists and practitioners. 

The scientists work to advance the field through research and analysis.  Sometimes they work in universities and sometimes in research labs and think tanks.  Practitioners work to apply the knowledge in order to impact people and business and the world.

For example, a medical researcher might seek the cure for cancer by doing research in a university, medical school lab.   The physician in a hospital uses that research to treat patients.

Seems like a healthy, practical and symbiotic relationship.  Both add value.  Both need each other to be effective.

But it does not always seem to work that way.

I recently attended the professional conference for my field, Industrial-Organizational Psychology.  SIOP is about 2/3 academic researchers and about 1/3 practitioners.  There always seems to be an unhealthy competition and disrespect between the scientists and practitioners.

The scientists think the practitioners are sell-outs for going into business and sometimes having to sacrifice theoretical purity for practical reality.  Practitioners see the scientists as focused on minutiae (like obscure statistical measurement) instead of researching practical applications.

SIOP has even been professing for years that all I/O Psychologists should be Scientist-Practitioners.  That would mean that everyone has a theoretical orientation with practical focus – learn to do both.

It has not seemed to evolve that way. 

Is there a scientist versus practitioner divide in your geek field?

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Calling all R&D geeks!

Broader role, Geek 5

Over at BNET Nancy Smith wrote an interesting article called R&D: Skilled, Well-educated Workers Wanted (and not just the science geeks)!   Research and development is one of the fields that will continue to grow over the next decade.   Companies need innovation in order to expand their revenue and to compete with up-and-coming businesses around the world.

The government is contributing to the increase in R&D as well.  The stimulus contributed $19B to R&D – and more is proposed for future budgets.

R&D applies to most technical areas – from engineering to medicine to technology to environmental sciences and more.  Making research happen requires a well-educated workforce with a focus on science, math and technology.

Check out the article.  It should make you feel confident that your geek skills will be even more strongly valued in the future.  Add some soft skills to the mix and overcome the Geek 5 risks (organizational savvy, leadership, management skills, business acumen and resistance to a broader role), and you’re on your way to having an unstoppable career.

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