Scholars are pursuing an international reputation earlier in their careers. Early career researchers often encounter norms and expectations they may be unfamiliar with, specifically open access publishing, research data sharing mandates and establishing their scholarly identity via professional social media. They must learn to navigate the research lifecycle from topic selection to data collection and ultimately dissemination of their work. This text will help researchers in STEM and the social sciences navigate the complexities of academic research in the international research community. Utilizing a combination of text, visuals, and reflection, readers will learn to establish themselves as researchers in the academic community.

Are you an early career researcher? Do you struggle or experience frustration with some aspect of the research process? Then, this text is for you! Early career typically includes graduate students, post-docs and new faculty. It will focus on research conducted in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and social sciences disciplines. Additionally, the educators, librarians, and mentors who work with and/or teach early career researchers can use the text in their teaching and mentorship.

In academia, early career researchers are often expected to learn by doing, figuring out how to navigate scholarly information, manage their data and find avenues for publication. However, this method often creates unnecessary stress for researchers who are also navigating graduate school or their first teaching appointment. Emerging digital tools and the rapidly evolving environment for scholarly communication also create additional barriers. This text meets the needs of early career researchers, and the educators who work with them, by providing tools, instruction, support and practice navigating the research lifecycle successfully.

The Research Lifecycle

The process of completing a scholarly project takes the researcher through a variety of steps from planning through data collection to creating products and assessing impact. Modeling the Research Lifecycle can help researchers conceptualize the process and understand how their work evolves.

Research is a complex process and there are many different visualizations of the lifecycle. We have created the graphic below to depict the lifecycle as it is explored in this text. Some institutions and groups divide the sections differently or use different terminology. However, the basic concept of the lifecycle is largely similar regardless of its visualization.

lifecycle depiction with bullets for "explore and organize", "collect and analyze", "outputs and publications" and "impact and engagement
The Research Lifecycle

The research lifecycle, and the contents of this text, are divided into four primary sections:

  1. Explore and Organize helps researchers in the beginning stages of a project. You will read about planning for research projects, information seeking, source evaluation and citation management.
  2. Collection and Analysis focuses on the data-related aspects of a project. You will learn about data collection, management and visualization. The section also explores concepts around reproducible research.
  3. Outputs and Publications discusses concepts surrounding the products of research. It explores publication models, academic writing, intellectual property and communicating research to non-academics.
  4. Impact and Engagement takes the researcher beyond any single project to assess the larger impact of their work. You will learn how to establish your scholarly identity and use metrics to evaluate your body of work.

In reality, research projects often end up resembling a tangle of threads. Research is rarely linear and often a messy process because it is iterative in nature. Each time you find answers, you generate new questions and aspects to explore. You may revisit the searching and evaluation stage multiple times throughout a project before you finally publish or share your results.

In this Book

This book is composed of four sections that will help you to navigate the research lifecycle. Each section focuses on one stage of the research process. Because the research process is iterative, you may find yourself revisiting earlier sections as your research progresses.

Exploration and Organization

  • Planning for Research
  • Information Seeking and Evaluation
  • Special Types of Information
  • Citation Management

Collection and Analysis

  • Data Collection
  • Data Management and Organization
  • Reproducible Research and FAIR Data Sharing
  • Data Visualization

Outputs and Publications

  • Publication Models and Process
  • Academic Writing
  • Copyright and Licensing
  • Telling Your Story to Non-academics

Impact and Engagement

  • Scholarly Identity
  • Impact and Assessment

The reflections and activities at the end of each chapter will help you to consider the content within the context of your work. As you read the text, consider how the tools, processes and skills discussed could be incorporated into your research workflow. You may find that some are particularly applicable while others are less so. As you incorporate new tools and skills into your workflow consider how effective they are in solving problems and simplifying your work.


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Navigating the Research Lifecycle for the Modern Researcher Copyright © 2024 (2nd Edition) by Brianna Buljung, Emily Bongiovanni and Ye Li is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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