Are Research Networks Worth the Time for Graduate Students?

Today's graduate students are entering academic and scientific communities that are rapidly changing. Collaborations across disciplines and sectors are becoming more common (Redman et al. 2004, Adams 2012), and graduate students often provide key linkages in these collaborations (Rhoten and Parker 2014). While solid advice on selecting academic supervisors and departments is extensive for prospective graduate students (e.g., Smith et al. 2016), traditional trainee–supervisor relationships are evolving and often expanding to include these more collaborative projects. Such collaborations among scientists are now often formalized into funded scientific research networks (Adams 2012). Research networks generally consist of several to many researchers organized to address problems under a common theme. Given the wide diversity of research networks (e.g., Table 1), navigating and understanding research networks can be challenging for incoming graduate students, who may have limited knowledge of the structure of research communities.

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