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I am a computational scientist and I often find myself much more productive when working with others with resonating mind. When working alone, my motivation level is lower, distracted more easily, and I feel the progress is slower. However, in academic jobs, I often hear that it is important to show that you are an independent researcher.

  • Q1. What are the defining properties of an independent researcher?
  • Q2. How can I show that I am independent?
  • Q3. I like working in teams, is academia (esp faculty in research university) not a good career path for me? (I could think independently, but I could do better with others, so why be independent?)

1 Answer 1

At least in my field (mathematics), there are people who do almost all their work collaboratively. Academia can be a good place for such people, but:

  1. It varies a lot, not only by field, but by subfield, so you'll want to take that into account when choosing a specialty. (Math has a lot of single authored papers, while the lab sciences have very few. I gather CS is somewhere in between, and that it depends on the area. Even within math, it depends on the particular subfield, sometimes for reasons that have more to do with culture than anything intrinsic to the subject.)

  2. If you're in an area where single authored papers are common, you'll eventually be expected to produce some, just to demonstrate that you're not be carried along by your co-authors.