By Priyanka Kalra
Ever had the feeling that you have faked your way into your career and you don’t deserve to be where you are? Well, to prove that you are not the only one, there is actually an entire psychological concept called imposter syndrome devoted this feeling. According to Hugh Kearns, an expert on self-management, positive psychology and work-life balance, “imposter syndrome is that nagging feeling you have, that somehow you don’t belong, you haven’t earned your success and that at any moment you will be uncovered.”
The syndrome manifests itself strongly and comfortably within academia, given its elite nature and competitive atmosphere. In addition to feeling like a fake, research also shows that imposter phenomenon can impact researchers in ways that they “conduct less research and are less willing to present at conferences or publish.” These feelings and thoughts can manifest into insecurities resulting in or leading to anxiety and self-doubt.
So, the question then is, what can researchers do to control these feelings or keep them from effecting their work? Other than recognising these doubts and categorising them under the phenomenon of imposter syndrome, individuals can use other techniques to curb these feelings. According to Hugh, if the imposter feelings start to take over, researchers can focus on the evidence and separate imposter feelings and imposter syndrome from a real imposter. “The crucial feature of imposter feelings and the imposter syndrome is that there is clear evidence that you are not an imposter, but you still feel like one. So, if you want to know whether you are an imposter or not – look at the evidence,” he adds.
Yet, advice around these issues can be rather ambiguous and to concretely address these pertinent issues, Researcher Academy, with the help of Hugh Kearns, is devoting the month of November to discuss mental health and imposter syndrome. In a live webinar to take place on 23rd of November (2pm UTC), Hugh Kearns will discuss the not-so-exciting part of research and share techniques that can help you stay healthy while you work. The webinar will tackle the perineal issues within research that add stress and inhibit imposter feelings and will further ways of dealing with setbacks, strategies to efficiently counter imposter syndrome and most importantly, teach you how to switch off and take care of yourself. The webinar will give you a chance to interact with Hugh and ask any questions you have about maintaining a healthy research career. You can also join the Researcher Academy Mendeley group to ask any questions in advance which Hugh can make a part of the webinar.
See you then and happy researching!