Keeping up with the latest developments in your field of research is important whether you are taking a sabbatical to travel the world or your funding has finally dried up.
Whatever your situation, it is good to maintain a broad working knowledge of your field of interest and not leave yourself a mountain of reading to get through upon your return.
On the flip side, it’s important to enjoy your time off – don’t spend it all glued to the PubMed website! Here are a few tips to help keep on top of things when you’re out of a job:
- Maintain relationships. Keep in touch with your former colleagues and boss. Drop in to the lab from time to time if possible. It’s good to maintain your network and chat with co-workers who may have recently returned from a conference or know of someone who is looking to fill a research position. Ask to be kept on the department/university mailing list to keep up to date on upcoming conferences and funding deadlines.
- Keep up with the literature. Set up regular PubMed email alerts. Jot down a few keywords that cover the main aspects of your field and save these as searches in PubMed. Anytime a key paper is published, it will be sent straight to your inbox. For tips on setting up efficient searches, see this previous article.
- Stay connected. Take advantage of social network sites such as Twitter and Facebook. There are hundreds of scientists actively posting on the latest research findings, job vacancies, and open funding grant calls.
- Get published. Being out of work isn’t exactly ideal, but it can be a good opportunity to finally write that paper you have been putting on the back burner. It could also be an ideal time to write some reviews, or, if you wish to get back into research, to write some research grants. Getting stuck into writing publications or grants is an ideal way to keep your knowledge fresh and demonstrate to your former boss or colleagues that you are still proactive in the research community.
What are your tips for keeping up your field between jobs?