Remember way back here when I said I'd answer questions, we'll I'm back at it as promised.
Caroline was next on the list and she said
"I was surprised that you continued your own research when you started your non-academic job. It sounds like it's a lot of work, but that it's worked out for you. I'm sick of research. So I guess my question is ... what keeps you interested in continuing your research? How do you keep motivated?"
I don't even know where to begin with this question because I can't imagine not continuing to do my own research. One of (probably the only reason), I hesitated applying for and eventually taking a non-academic job is because research is my love.
I still worry about this, if I do leave ANJ this will be the #1 reason. Although, my bosses at ANJ know how important my research is to me. They made promises to me during my interviews regarding integrating my research into some of the stuff that what we do at ANJ. So far, we have not been very successful as all of what we do is dictated by those who provide us with funding. And And although they really wanted a Psychologist on my team, they haven't really embraced the stuff that would be most interesting for a Psychologist to work on or the directions I've wanted to take things. I'm still trying, but some of this has been really frustrating (and to be honest if it wasn't as frustrating to my immediate supervisors then I'd already be looking for a new job).
Any, how do I stay motivated... well it is hard sometimes given that I work at least 40 hours/week at ANJ on totally unrelated stuff. During down times at ANJ they do not mind if I work on other research stuff. They are very supportive of professional development, however I haven't had much down time since August. :)
One of the nice parts of not working directly in the field (and not being a grad student or post doc and therefore obligated to an advisor/mentor) is that I can work on whatever is most interesting to me at the moment. For example, I have some obligations to my post doc mentor that I was not all that motivated to work on so I finished editing my dissertation (which is research that I love!) and put the post doc stuff aside. When I'm finished with these obligations to my post doc mentor I have 2 other manuscripts I need to get out.
Of course when I say NEED, I really mean want. I do not need to publish to keep this job or even to move up with this organization. But I want to publish the work that I've done. I just can't imagine walking away. I am really big on follow through (hence, fulfilling the obligations to my post doc mentor). So, once I start something I am somewhat obsessive about finishing it. I want people to comment on my commitment level in my letters of recommendation. I want that to be clear on my Vita.
I can not say no to an interesting project. I just can't do it, it got me in a little trouble in grad school as my advisor worried about me getting overwhelmed but I knew I could do it. I wouldn't say yes if I wasn't totally enamored with the project. And if I am enamored, then I'm in and it will get done. So not only do I have the manuscripts from grad school, the stuff with my post doc mentor... I also have two other brand new projects that collaborators have started data collection on this semester. :) One is a follow up to my masters thesis and dissertation research and the other is stuff I haven't done in a long time.
The last thing I wanted to say is that I love collaborating. The two new projects are only happening because they're with two of my favorite people. The dissertation follow up is with someone I've collaborated with all through the research process before and we really compliment each others working style, the 2nd is a collaboration with one of my best friends who is also someone that I click well with professionally and so both projects are just fun to work on.
I feel like I did some meandering through this post but I hope it answers the question Caroline. Please feel free to ask follow up questions if there is more you want to know.