Thinking about a research visit? – A blog post for you


AU 2014

I begun my research visit at American University, Kogod School of Business, in February believing that this year was going to be all about work. I was so wrong! In this blog post I will briefly tell you about some of my experiences that might be useful for you who are planning or dreaming of an own research visit, or even a research career.

Find a Hosting professor that you think you can work with
My thought of a research visit began while I listened to Prof. Alberto Espinosa’s keynote speak at Hawaii International Conference on System Science in 2013. I knew immediately that this is a professor that I would like to work with, that would bring forth the best in me. After some rounds of email and Skype discussions I ended up here, in Washington DC, not the west coast that I had planned for. I don’t regret it a single day. It turned out that Washington DC just sings ME, I love the city, I love the people, I love the weather, yeah everything. That said, don’t go after the place, go after collaboration partners that inspire you, who you can team up with and build long lasting research relationships with.

Think about this year as an opportunity to find your own research field.
I was initially quite lost in the scholarly community, not knowing even if this was what I wanted to do. By going though this research exchange, I have come a far more closer to where I want to be, and now I know for sure that academia is my place. If you are in an early phase of your research career, go to different conferences if you can, work with different people, and find out what it is that sets that spark in you. It took me a couple of information systems conferences (IS), a communication conference and a management (M) conference to understand that I really am a mix, a MIS, and that is totally okay. When I visited the annual meeting of Academy of Management in August I happened to talk to a person that completely removed all my worries of “Am I doing too much – too little – on the right thing?” Talk to those people you cite, it will be an eye awakening experience for you. You will find out that these are really normal people, and that they want to collaborate with you – they just don’t know it yet.

Find other possible collaborations and start collaborate
I recommend that you focus on creating a strong research network during your research exchange that stretches beyond the one of your host. This way you can work on more projects and not be dependent on one person’s time schedule. If possible, start building this network already when planning your research visit and start collaborating at a distance. That way, I can assure you that you will have a productive year. I have for instance visited Santa Clara University to collaborate with Prof. Terri Griffth, gone down to Santa Barbara to work with Assoc. Prof. Karen Myers and to Rutgers University to work with Assoc. Prof Jennifer Gibbs and Doctoral Candidate Maggie Boyraz. All of them, I initiated collaboration with before my research exchange, which made these visits useful beyond initial greetings.

Last, plan for a life extending beyond research
As mentioned earlier I was naive to believe that I would have NOTHING to do in Washington DC other that work. I have learned to know wonderful people in DC, both Finns and natives. They keep me busy with life. Not to mention the collaboration with my professor. Although we currently work seriously on two journal publications, I was surprised to realize that he also became my friend. He and his wife have hosted us, me and my husband, for dinners, road trips, and world cup soccer TV time, to mention some. So do I get ANY work done? Yes. More than I would ever believed that I would be capable of. Taken all this into account, I would recommend this inspiring year to every one of you.

And the last disclaimer, funding. Don’t worry about the funding. You will need it but with a solid research plan and an initiation to a strong research network – you will beet your competitors! You are no more or less that you decide you to be. Therefore, aim high, and shoot.