There are several characteristics required to become a great researcher. Today, I will discuss one of them that is sometimes overlooked. It is sociability. Sociability means to build an maintain relationships with other researchers. The nature of the social relationships can vary. It can be for example to co-author a paper with another researcher, to give feedback on his project, or just to discuss with other researchers at conferences or at university.
Why sociability is important? After all, a researcher can become famous by publishing his or her ideas alone. This is true. However, building relationships with other researchers will bring several benefits to a researcher’s career.
Let’s consider the case of a M.Sc student or Ph.D. student. A student can work 100 % of his time on his own project. In this case, he will publish a few articles. However, if a student work 80 % on his project and spend 20 % of his time to participate in the project of another student, he will publish more articles. The sociability of the research advisor of the student is also important. If a student has a research advisor that has good relationships, some opportunities may arises such as to participate in books, workshop organization, etc.
Now, let’s consider the case of a researcher who got his Ph.D. Relationships are also important, and probably more than for a student! If a researcher has good relationships, he may be invited to participate in some conference committees, to participate to grant proposals, be invited to give a talk at various universities, etc. More opportunities will be available to the researcher. For a professor, sociability may also help to find good students and good students write good papers, which bring good grants, and so on.
A good advice is therefore to try to build good relationship with other researchers.
Today, I was viewing my automatically generated profile on ArnetMiner ( http://arnetminer.org/person/philippe-fournier-viger-351920.html ) , which offers eight characteristics to asses a researcher’s work : Activity, Citations, H-Index, G-Index, Sociability, Diversity, Papers and Rising Star. Here is my chart:
H-Index, G-Index, Citation, Papers, Rising Star and Activity are measures mainly derived from the number of publications and the number of citations. Diversity is about the number of different topics that a researcher has worked on. Finally, sociability is measured based on the number of co-authors, which gives a measure of sociability, but exclude other non-measurable relationships between researchers.
In my case, the diversity measure is high because I have worked on several topics ranging from intelligent agents, cognitive architectures, intelligent tutoring systems before focusing more recently on data mining.
Update 2017/03: Almost four years have passed since I wrote this blog post. Here is a brief update that shows how the profile of a researcher can evolve over time. Below is a screenshot of my statistics generated by ArnetMiner, and citation count according to Google Scholar:
As it can be seen above, my scores for each dimension calculated by ARMiner has quite improved in recent years as well as the number of citations.
Hope that this post was interesting! I just want to share a few thought about this! If you have some other ideas, please share them in the comment section! If you like this blog, you can subscribe to my RSS Feed or Twitter account (https://twitter.com/philfv) to get notified about future blog posts. Also, if you want to support this blog, please tweet and share it!
P. Fournier-Viger is the founder of the Java open-source data mining software SPMF, offering more than 50 data mining algorithms.