I am an avid fan of boardgames. So many of the lessons that I have learned so far in my PhD journey can be tied back to particular experiences shared around the gaming table.
One of my favorite board games is Settlers of Catan. If you have never heard of Settlers of Catan, I recommend that you create a new tab, go to Amazon, and buy it immediately.
Settlers of Catan is a strategy resource management game in which the objective is to gain resources (wood, sheep, wheat, brick, and ore) and build/settle on the island of Catan. Pretty simple, right? Well, as with many things in life, it is not as simple as it seems. In the game, you must trade with players in order accomplish your goal of building as many settlements as you need in order to win. This can make the game quite an experience.
As in Catan, you must be diligent in research as you bring together your resources (data, time, subjects, ideas, and finally publications) to be successful. An excellent element of the game is that collaboration amongst the players is almost always required to be able to win. This means that learning from your advisor and peers on how to improve your research should be considered a resource that will allow you to become a winner (i.e. published first author on an article/chapter/book, snag an awesome postdoc,or whatever the goal is in your field).
However, you must keep in mind that everyone around the table wants to win, so YOU must be resourceful and meticulous in your strategy/approach. Make sure that the people you align with have your best interests at heart, and don’t be afraid to invest in others as well. Research is important, so make sure that you utilize and maximize your resources to ensure that you achieve a win!
Here’s to playin’ the game. I’ll see you at the board.