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Developing my Research Vision

What is your research vision? Postdoc researchers don't always find this question easy to answer, but it is crucial, especially for those who want to proceed in science and must demonstrate a clear research vision, an (international) visibility and ambition for a tenure track.

This course is offered by Wageningen Graduate School (WGS).

Target group

Postdocs looking to develop a research vision, and subsequently learn to communicate it clearly and convincingly.

Course goals

Through the training programme Developing my Research Vision, young academics develop their research vision, and subsequently learn to communicate it clearly and convincingly. By explaining why they do what they do, they will not only be able to effectively bring their research vision into the limelight but also themselves, for instance when presenting before the tenure track committee, at conferences, in the media or for cooperation partners.

Content and design

The programme is a 5-step process in which the participants work intensively on developing their research vision given their own ambitions, talents and competences and accordingly learn how to present this convincingly. The working methods are varied, consisting of online tests, skills training, brainstorming sessions and action plans. Participants will keep a personal workbook/file to document all findings. They must be aware that apart form the training days sufficient time must be reserved to work on the assignments and research vision document in their own time.

Step 1: What is my dream?

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Developing a vision is a process, from dream to reality. With a personal research vision, participants become aware of what is important to them, translated into a concrete image of what they want to achieve in the long and medium term.

In this session participants search for their why, their ideal, their dream. What are my ambitions? What do I want to have achieved with my research in 10 years' time? Who am I doing it for? And why?

This search is a creative process, in which we use brainstorming techniques. The aim of this step is:

Refining the focus of the questions: What will my research look like in 10 years' time?

From initial ideas or purges to creativity techniques:

  • Quick-storming and mind-mapping
  • Brainwriting
  • The superhero
  • Converging and selecting
  • Evaluating

Step 2: Where am I now?

The next step involves determining how realistic the dream is. Hence participants will be asked to fill in an on-line self-study (e.g. about working values to answer the questions: What drives me? Which values and standards do I want to convey?

Accordingly participants perform a SWOT analysis to identify the challenges that lie in from of them and how these can be tackled. 

They are then challenged to take a critical look at the data from the SWOT analysis and the tests, and to ask themselves the following questions:

  • What suprises me?
  • Which developments within my field of research will change my work as a researcher in the future?
  • What gets me excited? What scares me?
  • (How) can I realise my motives, standard and values within my work as a researcher?

This total self-analysis is the starting point for further vision development and what challenges participants should each focus on in this training and what must be strengthened to develop an realistic research vision

During the training, participants have the time to process the analysis and the information. During this period, they can contemplate their views and vision on the future. Developing these elements often takes time, and to motivate the participants, we ask them to keep a diary. They can include these discoveries about themselves in their personal files, as self-reflection.

Step 3: My research vision in detail

As soon as the participants have a good idea of ​​their research ambitions and goals, the next step is to test if their ideas can pass the reality test. If so, they will make the translation into a clear and detailed research vision.

Where the first two steps are about the researcher himself and his motives and ambitions, in this one he will step outside to check the scientific impact and societal value of his ideas and science.

Usefulness and necessity What is the use and relevance of my research? What is hot right now in my field? What is the market for my research? Is it possible to connect with the business community, the government or society? (How) can I use it?

Partners and competitors What partnerships (knowledge sharing) and funding opportunities are there (NWO, ERC, companies and other social partners)? Who are colleagues and who are competitors? What can I contribute to others? Why would someone wants to work with me?

This step is a two-day training. A successful researcher will be invited as a guest speaker to share his or her own journey to inspire and support the group. The 'hard' work will be done in addition in subgroups of three. They’ll search for latest insights in their field, look for inspiring examples and possible similarities, but above all, determine differences in their mutual visions.

Step 4: How do I communicate my vision?

After the formulation of a clear research vision participants will obtain skills and tools to present this vision is an appealing, convincing way.

In this step of 4 days participants determine which stakeholders are currently interesting, where and how they can be reached, and how they can convinced of the value of the participants research vision. To this end they, from their developed research vision, build a solid and captivating story that they can use to firmly present themselves and their research to a tenure track committee, or any other diverse target groups and media. After this part of the process, they are trained in the following skills:

Pitching: my research vision in 30 words The next step is to make their formulation concise and easily communicable. They can start to put their vision down on paper as clearly as possible. The reformulation and especially tightening of their 'pitch-proof' vision takes place in a half-day training session.

The result is presented to the group and checked for quality. A well-formulated vision is: 

  • Concise: less than 30 words.
  • Clear: understandable without much explanation within 5 minutes.
  • Future-oriented: the best visions describe the future as an infinite process, not as something that is finished at a given moment.
  • Ambitious: a difficult but achievable goal can be a great motivating factor.
  • Stable: a vision does not change because a trend or technology changes. A vision rises above all that and uses overarching values.
  • Abstract: precisely because a vision is about the future, that vision is often formulated abstractly.
  • Inspiring: it describes a better future.
  • Real: it fits seamlessly with the core values and sincere motives of the postdoc.

This session ends with a personal and appealing pitch built upon this concise formulated vision.

Personal Branding / Profiling This session deals with the art of selling yourself as a distinctive researcher in a competitive environment. The main objective is to provide the participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to present themselves as a personal brand in their field of interest. They will learn to use techniques that will enhance the impact of their professional reputation within a specific target group. The end result will be that they are able to promote themselves and their ideas in the best possible way.

Online networking Networking is essential for a more visible and efficient research. In this interactive session participants will learn what networking really entails, the returns it can generate, and how to leverage the power of the networks they already have. Practical tips for creating new networks will also be covered, including finding and attending networking events and the use of online tools.

Writing for social media Elaborating on the previous session, in this one the participants will starting up or improving their online profiles. They will develop a social media news strategy, which helps them to choose what kind of messages they could publish online. And to actually write one. The session is therefore hands-on, and the participants will leave with improved social media profiles and a short blog post.

Step 5: What will be my next step?

During a final one-day training, the participants start working on translating their vision into a concrete strategy to realise their ambitions for the longer term. In other words: what do they need to do (actions) after this training programme?

  • Focused on knowledge and skills: what do I need to know and control?
  • Focused on cooperation: who can help me (along)?
  • Focused on profiling: how and where do I put myself on the map in a distinctive way?

The participants schedule the actions and make arrangements to ensure the actions are performed and monitored.

Please note: *As the process takes place over a longer period, perhaps it is wise to form small subgroups that meet weekly at a fixed time to discuss the personal files and share ideas with each other.

Course duration

  • 3 full days and 4 half-days
  • Please be aware that apart from the training days sufficient time must be reserved to work on the assignments and research vision document in your own time.

Dates and times

Schedule PhD courses

Course material

The course material is included in the course fee and will be distributed in the first session.

Course Fee

Postdocs at Wageningen University € 450
All other post-docs and staff at Wageningen University € 900
All other participants € 900