Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

How to grasp the strength of being an open-minded researcher

What does it mean for a researcher to be open-minded? Doing research is not knowing what the outcome will be, but work only on some intuition. The result of every scientific investigation may challenge our perception of reality, and we limit the creative process unless we cultivate an open mind.

open-minded transformation

At the beginning of my research career, I didn’t challenge the explanations found in the literature. I feared others looked at me as incompetent. Only later I understood that part of being open-minded is to admit the possibility of making mistakes. What matters is the truth and what’s right, not how embarrassed I feel about finding or making mistakes. It takes time and experience to feel this way.

Open-mindedness is an essential condition for having a transformative experience. The term “transformative” means you only know when you experienced it. I may share with you what I feel and understand about having my mind open, but unless you experience it, you’ll never know. And every research endeavor has the potential of changing how we perceive the world and ourselves. Thus, of being a transformative experience.

An open minded person develops the ability to

  • listen
  • detach
  • risk
  • and lose

 

Open-minded listening

What if there were no more people in the world besides you and the one you listen? This is how you experience genuinely listening to the other.

 

Open-minded detaching

Are you willing to lose your idea even if you feel you’re right? This is how you experience being genuinely free from your thoughts to be open to the possibilities that others may have better ones.

 

Open-minded risking

Are you sure about what you know? If so, how would you welcome what you don’t know but it is true? The unknown is risky, but it is the indwelling of truth.

 

Open-minded losing

What if you’re wrong? Only those who accept being wrong can change and welcome the transformative power of the ability to lose. Because sometimes we have to if we want to approach reality as it is.


Question: do you consider yourself an open-minded person? What would you change to become more open-minded?

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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