Developing your research vision

Research Vision

Here is what you should do to generate your vision

For several year’s now, I have been working with researchers to develop their research vision. In the beginning, some researchers thought this was a little strange, and I was even met with the comment, “Tamika, a vision is something companies have”!

However, since then, there have been several examples of why having a vision for your research is necessary.

Examples of why you should have a research vision

The first of these came from a blog post looking at the elements of research impact pathways. This work had looked at the Research Excellence Framework impact narratives from the 2014 assessment in the UK and determined the common features of the successful pathways, of which the first element was a clear vision. The second example was a media piece from the University of Toronto, where a Canadian researcher Dr Anna Taddio, was interviewed. In that article, Dr Taddio clearly stated her research vision and even called it her vision. The third reason for having a vision for your research, came as recently as this year when the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia introduced a specific section into the Investigator Grant proposal asking for the project vision.

What is your research vision?

Well, you can have several, you may have one that is your career vision, and you may have one for each of your research projects or a program of work. In each case, your vision is your destination postcard.

Benefits of knowing your vision

Aside from the need for this in grants, a career vision will help you make decisions and stop you from getting detracted from what you want to achieve. Often researchers and in particular, early career researchers, tell me that they have so much to do and different opportunities that they don’t know which ones to accept and reject. Having a clear vision can help you to decide if the answer is yes or no. When you know where you are heading, you can say no to all the shiny new objects that take you off your path, unless of course, that’s where you want to go.

A program or project level vision is useful in two ways.

  1. It helps you to clearly articulate where the work is heading and attract likeminded team members and collaborators. When you know and work to your vision, it connects the team and brings everyone on the journey.
  2. A clear research vision is useful in talking to external collaborators, it gives you and them clarity about why you are undertaking the work, and it helps you to know if you align well with their organisation.
Articulating your research vision

Now we need to consider your vision, not an easy task. This takes time to get it right. Everyone has different ways of creating their vision and usually what happens with researchers is that we make the vision too detailed and wordy. That’s why my preferred structure is to write out both your vision and mission as follows.

Vision

Your vision statement describes what you want to achieve in the future. How long to the “future” will depend on if this is for a project or your career. Your vision should inspire you, and in the case of a project vision, it should inspire your team. A vision helps shape your understanding of why you are doing what you do. Your vision is your WHY.

Mission

Your mission is about the present state; it is the detail underpinning your vision. Your mission answers the following questions:

  • What do I do?
  • How do I do it?
  • Who do I do it for?
Example of research vision

I mentioned earlier the article from the University of Toronto, in that article, Dr Anna Taddio outlined her vision.

My vision is to make children all over the world healthier by improving their experiences during needle procedures. Dr Anna Taddio

Reading the article further, I was able to ascertain the answers to the questions required for a mission statement.

  • How: increasing the number of vaccinated youth through the implementation of interventions and programs.
  • Who: Youth aged 6-18
  • What: best research evidence on managing pain and fear of needles

Take a look at the article, and you can see that by understanding her vision and mission, Dr Taddio was able to articulate her work clearly and tell the reader why she is doing it.

Have you written your vision for your project or career?

Reach out and let me know your vision.

Want some help to develop your research vision and mission?

To help you, we have put together a FREE video-course to show you how.