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Scientific activity has always been network-based, but this dimension is becoming increasingly important today and is crucial for the construction of an academic career.
We have grouped several main topics in this section.
As the network is so important in any professional career, there is a great deal of literature on the subject. The "Science Careers" website of the journal Science is closely related to academic careers and has a fairly complete How to section.
What is the purpose of a network?
These are some examples of the usefulness of a network:
- to obtain information that is publicly available on a wide scale (calls for papers for colloquiums or journals, funding, employment vacancies) ;
- to diffuse targeted information to ensure it is not buried in the mass of information in circulation ;
- to obtain help and advice in carrying out your work (proofreading of articles, grant applications, job applications) ;
- to put you in touch with people you would like to meet or collaborate with ;
- to show that you are recognised by a network of people at important times in your career (appointments procedure, grant applications and obtaining of funds) ;
- to recruit individuals for research projects, mandates or as replacements without going through an application procedure (for this type of contract, one network member will often contact another directly without any public advertising and selection procedure) ;
- to receive support when applying for an important post, etc.
Getting in contact
A professional network is built on the basis of different places and relationships.
There are many ways of getting into contact with others :
- attend colloquiums. Don’t underestimate the « social » aspects of such events (aperitif, meals, etc.) as opportunities to make new contacts;
- become a member of associations in your field;
- members of the thesis jury are a good starting point when building a network;
- take part in the activities of associations that defend your rights (professional associations, trade unions, etc.);
- become involved in the life of the institution in different committees, councils, etc.;
- take part in political, scientific and cultural associations and groups, etc. organised on an informal basis and set up on the campus;
- propose collaborative ventures;
- ask colleagues and acquaintances for their opinion of your work, etc.
All networks operate on a two-way basis.
Being registered on a distribution list or belonging to an association by paying subscriptions without participating is of course a good way of keeping informed, but being part of a network requires more than that.
To develop a network, and above all to maintain it, you need to be active, make contacts, take initiatives and become involved by:
- diffusing information;
- acting as intermediary between different people;
- suggesting activities (organising a conference for example);
- circulating information about what you are doing and proposing collaborative projects;
- not neglecting the « informal » side of the network’s activities : going for a drink or a meal after a conference or colloquium, for example. This often allows bonds to be forged on a more friendly basis – an essential feature of networks.