On the Intersection of Two Companions for Ecological Validity: Research and Industry

[By: Umay Şen]

The second meeting of Motion Network (Mobile Technology for Infant Social-Cognitive Neuroscience: Interdisciplinary Training Network for Innovating Infancy Research) took place in Oldenzaal, Netherlands. In this meeting, there were various workshops regarding the interaction of research and industry. As the early stage researchers of the network, we have strong connections with both industry and academia. This provides the opportunity to get involved with them both now and also in future.

Although, most of us do not have concrete career plans after PhD, we are questioning the possibilities of staying in academia/industry or changing our tracks from one to the other. To make decisions about future, is an effortful and delicate process. In this blog post, I am going to discuss about the research environments in academia and industry and also how they are similar and different with a little bit of my own perspective as a PhD student who is planning to pursue an academic career.

In the Motion Network, we have direct access to a community consisting of international and qualified researchers who have experience in both academia and industry. Furthermore, we have collaborations with researchers, practitioners and people from companies who have different specializations. Being a part of Marie Curie Network is providing us the excellent opportunity to be involved in all these different disciplines, exchange of knowledge and to integrate different skills sets.

When we think about the industry and academia, we are actually talking about two different worlds with different aims, different working conditions, different obstacles that one may face on a daily basis. On the one hand, academia is research oriented, autonomous and dealing with research related problems. On the other hand, the industry is product based and result oriented and dealing with mostly consumer related problems. Since the nature of them are quite different, one has to keep in mind this when it comes to choose between the two. It is also important to consider that there are many situations that both are intertwined and need each other. Companies need research related collaborations in order to be updated about the current theoretical discussions related to their products and target audience. Similarly, the academia benefits from the industry because it is also part of the research that the findings can be implemented in everyday situations. As a result, the companies and the academia are highly dependent on each other even though both have different worlds with different aims.

Transition from one to the other could also be seen as a deliberate process. There are some advantages and also disadvantages related to changing one’s track from research to industry or vice versa. For instance, researchers in academia dedicate considerable amount of time to writing and also developing the writing skills since our end product is the articles that we publish in the scientific journals. Advanced writing skills could be considered as an important asset that someone who has a background in academia can bring into the industry. However, another type of stressor may emerge as a result of this transition: dealing with the customer questions and worries rather than research related problems such as non-significant statistical results, harsh reviews from scientific journals, grant application rejections.

Research and industry are two companions that one needs the other for ecologically valid research and up to date implications. Our training network is trying to establish a bridge between the two that can create a new way of looking at infant development. There are so many ways that both can work together and there are so many ways that one can use the knowledge and skill sets that could work for the other. It is only important to keep in mind that we should find out which one suits us best and which one has more tolerable drawbacks.