Building a Career in Research comparable to the PhD Level

Want to pursue a career in research?

One knows that if you would like to pursue a research career, the best option would be a standard Ph.D. There are differences in approach in some countries, for example in the US, courses make up a big portion of the degree along with the dissertation. In the UK, the focus is mainly on completing a quality dissertation which can also shorten the overall study time as well.

Traditionally, we assume research is purely in an academic setting but it’s very pragmatic to expect quality research being done in an industrial setting as well.

Want to pursue research but cannot commit to a Ph.D. program?

The process can be challenging but we will just provide suggested steps to follow:

  1. Pick an area of research to pursue new knowledge and make an impact.
  2. Take some course in research methods and also how to publish research papers – MIT OCW and other open courseware sites may have courses in this area. There are also some good textbooks on conducting quality research. There lots of material online how to write research papers.
  3. Check out the related journals in the respected field on the requirements for publishing papers – Example Elsevier
  4. Start doing research on the first paper while seeking out mentors to guide along the way. Professors at local universities could be a good place to start in finding mentors. It also makes sense to build a research team of peers to motivate and get out quality work.
  5. Publish the paper and monitor feedback from peers in that field – This can also form new materials for the next paper.
  6. Start to repeat the process with new papers and build a portfolio.
  7. Additional effort can be made to speak at related conferences or even to take on longer term projects such as those with income potential
  8. Once a body of material is established, the next step is to consider publishing books as well around the relevant or related topics.

How to represent research accomplishments?

A hardcore researcher would already have a Ph.D. but in this case, the individual has just published papers and completed projects. There may be several ways to showcase these accomplishments

  1. Build a portfolio website that links to all the published papers and speech given. This site can also serve as a blog as well as leverage sites like would be useful – Important Tips.
  2. Look for respected associations and societies in the field then apply for Fellowship level membership with them. An example of fellowship with the IEEE.
  3. The Ph.D. is still possible with the work done. Several universities, especially in the UK, does have a route called “Ph.D. by Published work“. Here is a good article about this process – Ph.D. while working.
  4. There are some Qualifications that could be pursued such as Chartered Scientist in the UK.
  5. Hopefully, with good quality papers, the writer may also earn some awards along the way to show outstanding contributions.
  6. Several large corporations do have research groups which is a good place to pursue work dreams while getting fairly good pay in the process. Example is IBM Research.

In the end, this shows that anyone could build a career in research and even become a full-time researcher over time.



About lmorley

I have over 15 years of experience in technology spanning various roles. Currently focusing more on Product Management and Business Development. I am a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and UK Chartered Engineer.
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