Welcome to our exciting new set of tips filling the regular Weekly Wisdom slot. We’re lucky enough to be featuring a year’s worth of tips sampled from a great book called What They Didn’t Teach You In Graduate School, by Paul Gray and David E. Drew. The book itself features over 200 hints and tips for a successful academic career and it’s a really enjoyable read to boot (with some very amusing illustrations)!
Weekly Wisdom #54:
MOST ACADEMIC FIELDS ARE DOMINATED BY FEWER THAN 100 POWERFUL PEOPLE.
These people know one another and determine the course of the field. Early in your career you should get to know as many of them as possible. More to the point, they should know who you are. You want them to see you as a bright young person at the forefront of your field. Although this tactic is important, be aware of the dangers associated with it. You should not begin the process until after you mastered the literature (particularly the papers they wrote!) and developed some ideas of your own. If they get to know you and conclude you have no ideas, you’re finished.