I mentioned that I’ve talked with two kinds of people – researchers and managers – during ODIP workshop #2 and AGU fall meeting 2013 in my last post, and here comes the definitions I left out.
By researchers, I mean people who are workers in the community — those who deal with technical details, think of novel approaches to problems, and fulfill ideas proposed by the managers.
Managers, on the other hand, are those who deal with people and make proposals to find social and financial support for workers. They may also do some marketing job to find customers for the products created.
Conversations with researchers (I probably didn’t pick the best word because people called researchers usually do both research and management) are usually very technical — approaches, architectures, frameworks, software, parameters, scalability, maintainability, etc. I currently is very biased towards the technical side of research and feel very comfortable in such kind of conversations.
Quite a lot of times, however, I find myself totally lost in conversations with managers — when they talk about funding, grants, recruiting, outreach, and names of people and institutions I’ve never heard of. I realize I didn’t pay enough attention to the managing side of research, which is equally important, if not more than, the technical side. Managers’ work of building and maintaining the supply chains and sales channels for research products is indispensable for research institutes and the academic community as a whole to function properly.
As a PhD student I didn’t get many opportunities to get involved in managing jobs, but in order to let people use the products that we are developing and we believe useful, I think I need to learn beyond the worker’s part and get to understand how the whole academic business works, and talking with managers at the ODIP workshop and AGU fall meeting certainly is a good starting point!