Why early career researchers should invest time to build their network


More than 100 N8 researchers attended the fourth ResoN8 Biophysical and Biochemistry Symposium at the University of Sheffield.

Max Hebditch is a postdoctoral researcher in Computational Chemistry at the University of Manchester. Here he explains why postdoctoral researchers should focus on building their network base during the early stages of their career:

As a postdoc researcher in Computational Chemistry, it’s not very often that I have the chance to take time away from the office. Long hours in front of the computer screen mean that it’s a not always possible to free myself away from my desk for a couple of hours to get out and interact with fellow researchers.

Being a postdoc can sometimes be a precarious position. During a fixed-term contracts, it can be difficult to strike a working balance between undertaking independent research and investing the time to develop professional relationships and seek out new collaboration opportunities.

This is where events such as the recent ResoN8 Biophysical and Biochemistry Symposium can come in very useful. I attended the event in Sheffield along with more than 100 fellow researchers from across the N8 Research Partnership.

Held at the University of Sheffield, it focused on presenting interdisciplinary work within the N8 network and promoted collaboration between post-graduates.

The event included a poster session and “flash” presentations by junior researchers and I was proud to be awarded a prize on the day for best poster from a postdoctoral researcher. This exercise highlighted new perspectives on how to approach research problems, as well as creating greater exposure for your work and encouraging new collaborations.

Through the N8 Research Partnership, there is already an effective framework in place to support these future partnerships between Northern universities.

I found the opportunity to network with researchers in other fields a valuable experience for me. I left the day feeling engaged and started to think of new ways to combine research areas, and how to apply my techniques to explore problems in other fields.

Events such as this can have a huge impact on your career development and provide a platform for you to develop relationships with a range of other researchers who you may be able to help – and those who may be able to help you.

Having taken part in this event, I would recommend any early career researcher to take advantage of the range of N8 organised events on offer – I will certainly be attending the next one.