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On Finding A Professional Home 精选

已有 6187 次阅读 2010-1-19 19:31 |系统分类:教学心得

Fornew readers and those who request to be “好友 good friends” please read my 公告first.

For every young scholar in academia and research, one decision you have to make after graduation and settled in your first job is to find a professional home. By this I mean one chooses a professional society where you intend to publish you future research papers and volunteer your services such as reviewing papers, participate in meetings, etc. Because of the cross disciplinary nature of many of scientific and engineering endeavors, there is often a plethora of choices of professional societies and groups. Take one example, the subject of “automation”. At least four IEEE Societies claim expertise, jurisdiction, and sponsor meetings on this subject. The temptation for young scholars is to try to join all four societies and participate in their activities. My considered advice is “DON’T DO THAT”. You cannot have one foot in each of two boats and expect to maintain balance for long. You can only have one set of parents and family at any one time. When you have divided loyalties, you end up pleasing no one. You can go to meetings organized by different societies or submit papers occasionally to different journals, but it is far better if you concentrate all your effort in one society and consider it your professional home. The benefits of clearly belonging to one group where people know about you, understand your background and capabilities, and appreciate your services are obvious.
After you have established yourself within one group, you may if you wish to venture association with another. However, if my own experience is any guide, you will still be look upon by the new group as an outsider and with suspicion. At best you will be tolerated but not necessarily welcomed. No group wants to share what it considers to be its assets and wealth, whatever they are, with a person whom they consider to be an interloper. To use a Chinese jargon - 你不是科班出身的 or in English – you are not one of us.
To make things concrete, let us say you belong to one society but you made a breakthrough discovery in the subject which another society consider to be its specialty. Your first inclination is to try to publish your work in the flagship journal of the other society and get involved in their meetings and administrations. Most likely you will encounter resistances and rejections. It is better to get the attention of your own group first where your discovery will be welcomed as infusing new ideas into the group your belong. In time, if your breakthrough is truly outstanding, the other group will reluctantly and grudgingly accept you contribution. They will reference your work in their own papers initially. But after a while, they will take over the subject, and start only referencing their own succeeding papers. You will be known only through books you write if you continue to contribute in the area. But you will be always acknowledged and honored by and in your own society.
Now as to which one of the many groups you should join? My answer is that it doesn’t matter very much. Joining the group where your mentor is already established may help you a little bit. But you can advance you career in any group and enjoy the essentially the same benefits. The only important thing is to concentrate your effort in one and not divide it in several.


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