Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

Your publication titles are a list or a story?

Researchers make science. And behind that science is a story. If we looked into one’s publications, would we see a list or that story? Are there different types of stories?

story through our publications

You may think science is impersonal, but nothing could be farther from the truth. On the contrary, science is deeply personal and the way a researcher approaches a question can be totally different from another. Besides, working environment, funding, career progression, collaborations, thesis supervisions, fear, perfectionism are also part of the boundary conditions behind a researcher’s story.

What I’m wondering is whether or not that story reflects the personal knowledge developed and boundary conditions experienced. If anyone looked through the titles of my papers, what kind of story would they see? This is the ground of vulnerability.

 

Personal story

It is curious and uncomfortable. When I look into the titles of my papers I see a clear path at the beginning due to my Ph.D., but right now it seems I’m trying to find my voice. In fact, it coincides with my entry in 2014 into a new University where resources changed and I wanted to explore other passions. Clearly, I reveal myself – in my vulnerability – as a person with different interests still trying to define my kind of path.

 

Other kinds of stories

Researchers with numerous publications on the same topic from different perspectives show a clear path, like Adrian Bejan and his Constructal Theory.

Others tackle with so many different topics that their story reflects – probably – supervising different people with all sorts of interests and helping them find their own story and grow their scientific personality.

People have several publications systematically on the same topic. Maybe it is an expression of the desire to go ever more deeply into that topic and never leave.

Fundings can also drive publications, as well as the pressure to publish for career sake. Even the lack of publications, or highly spaced could reflect the fear of exposure or perfectionism in what you do.

 

Does this make sense?

We are living in the Age of Connection. At last, we realize relationality is at the core of our story. People may think publishing and investing in scientific writing is a way of not perishing (remember… “Publish or perish”). We should move beyond that.

We publish because we want to share the science we love doing. Publishing is our way of feeling connected in our desire to know. Behind those publication titles, there’s a story of connection. There’s a followed or undergoing path. The challenge is being aware of that.


Question: what kind of story your publication titles tell?

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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