The Researcher's Journey

Steps of the Researcher's Journey

Where Are You in Your Career?

Basecamp (Trainee)

The trainee is learning the ropes of research, working in someone else's lab and supervised in learning how to move forward in their research

The Foothold

You are started on the path, are gaining independence, and have met some important milestones like getting first author papers, fellowships or other independent funding. You have started to operate semi-autonomously. However, there's no major funding yet to allow forming/building a research team, so it's still mostly a solo endeavor.

The Climb (Building)

You have resources such as startup funds, K award funding, or similar, and are now starting to build a research group as a fully independent researcher.

The False Summit (False Ceiling)

You have received major funding more than once, and have a small team to help move the research forward. However, a continuity of funding does not exist enough to provide a true sense of security, and the researcher often finds herself so busy juggling it all, that she can’t imagine further expanding without working even harder. If it continues this way, burnout is on the horizon.

The Sherpa (Leadership) 

You have reached a level of consistent funding that the research group is reasonably stable. You have a team and an established lab culture with one or more long-term, senior people working under you to keep things going even in your absence. There is a growing recognition of your leadership among your colleagues, especially in your sub-field.


Your work is starting to be used and recognized in the broader field you are working in. As a result, your name recognition brings gravitas that helps ease the path to funding, conference invitations, and so on. You have a team that works mostly independently to keep the research moving, even in your absence.


As a result of your efforts, you are in a position where you don't "have to" do the job for the money/salary, you choose to do it for the love of it.

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