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Magda Staniek, Postdoctoral Researcher, Irish Research Council

What's your name and area of research?

My name is Magda Staniek and I’m an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Researcher, based at the School of Politics and International Relations in UCD.

What motivates your area of research?

After getting my MA from the University of California in the US I worked for 15 years in education, lecturing and working in the area of international studies in a Liberal Arts college in the US. So getting a PhD and establishing myself as researcher has always been my professional and personal goal. So I had the opportunity to do a PhD at Trinity College Dublin and now I have the opportunity to establish myself as an independent researcher through the postdoctoral programme funded by the Irish Research Council.

What do you do in a normal week?

As a researcher you spend a lot of time reading! Reading other people’s work and writing your own research but at the same time you have great opportunities to engage with other researchers. I meet with other researchers who work with my colleagues and I have opportunities to present at seminars and conferences. You may also get the opportunity to review academic journal articles and if you are involved in any sort of collaborative research you can work with a great variety of people both within, and outside, your organisation.

What supports does the Irish Research Council provide?

The Council provides a very good level of funding. This covers your salary and expenses. You can also apply for a budget for your research. I think one of the very important things that the Irish Research Council does is that they support you both as a researcher and as a person.

What potential career paths can you follow?

I can pursue the traditional route of academia and become a lecturer or perhaps an alternative route. Currently I’m working with the Higher Education Authority and I’m doing research on the impact which international study programmes, such as Erasmus or Erasmus Plus, may have on Irish students and the education system. It also considers the impact on the country as a whole. I’m finding it very interesting as it is research that involves policy, which I have not done before.

What skills do you need to be a good researcher?

First of all you have to have passion, a lot of passion and you have to believe in your project. Without that it just won’t work. You also need to be motivated because the work can be lonely as you will spend a lot of time thinking, reading and writing. Self-discipline is hugely important as you need to be able to focus on the goals of the research. Depending on the nature of your research, you could be working on something which is multi-faceted as opposed to one defined piece of research. You have to be able to work on projects that may be part of a larger piece of research and stay very focused on what you are trying to achieve. You also need to like what you’re doing!