Advice to My Younger Self – 5 Tips for Early Career Researchers from Dr. Justin Keogh

PeerJ Communities Presents ‘Advice to My Younger Self – 5 Tips for Early Career Researchers’ an ongoing series to share advice and life lessons for Early Career Researchers from fellow researchers.

We invited Dr. Justin Keogh, Associate Professor of Exercise & Sports Science at Bond University, and PeerJ Section Editor for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, to share his thoughts.

Have clear research goals.

Such goals should involve anything from things you wish to achieve today/this week, up to more medium-term goals 3 to 5 years in the future. Your medium-term goals should focus on bigger outcomes that you wish to achieve (e.g. obtaining a particular research grant, improving your research metrics, connecting with industry to improve the translation of your research). Your daily/weekly research goals should contribute to these medium-term goals, even if your daily achievements only involve writing a small section of a journal article or a grant or ethics application when you are too busy with other commitments.

Network and use social media wisely.

It’s important to improve your academic networks including other early-career researchers as well as more experienced researchers in your area. Social media is one way which you can easily improve your networks. While spending too much time on Facebook or Instagram will not help you achieve your research goals, a variety of options including (but not limited to) Twitter, LinkedIn and ResearchGate can help you network with like-minded individuals and identify relevant research, grant and job opportunities, as well as advertising for Masters and PhD students.

Facilitate the development of your research students. 

The majority of successful researchers are highly successful in obtaining new Masters and PhD students and supporting their academic development and success. Just don’t forget that these students are people and that it’s important to also focus on their health and well-being and not just their academic successes.

Be industry engaged.

Develop relationships with relevant industry partners (in my case, across the sport, exercise and health sectors) so that your research focuses on important real-world questions. Embedding your Masters and PhD students in projects with these industry partners is vital as it provides opportunities for research scholarships and greater graduate employability for the students as well as increases the likelihood that your research will be translated to the real world.

Manage your time effectively.

Think of how to maximize your research productivity, be it what times of day, days per week or months per year that you can best focus on your research. For the research tasks that you find most difficult, try to do those when you are most mentally fresh; this may mean that you do your other administrative tasks including replying to emails at times of day when you’re a little more tired. It is also important to only take on as many research projects as you can manage effectively.


This is an ongoing blog series so keep an eye on the PeerJ blog to see more advice from our Editorial and Advisory Board Members. If you would like to contribute to the series please do get in touch: