Can life be made exclusively of successes? Can you find fulfillment in a job that pays well but is not aligned with your values? Does every postdoc get to be a professor? In this episode of Papa PhD, we address all these important questions and much more, as we talk with Abel Polese about his academic career, about all the other things he has going on and about how he glues everything together to achieve balance.

Abel Polese is a researcher, trainer, writer, manager and fundraiser dealing with development and capacity building in Europe and Asia. He is also interested in Science Excellence, Open Science and alternatives indicators to measure science performance and is the author of “The SCOPUS Diaries and the (il)logics of Academic Survival: A Short Guide to Design Your Own Strategy and Survive Bibliometrics, Conferences, and Unreal Expectations in Academia”, a reflection on academic life, research careers and the choices and obstacles young scholars face at the beginning of their career.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How to build a career based on diversification, with a part-time academic position
  • The day-to-day in the domain of area studies in social sciences
  • Dealing with anxiety in academia and in life
  • Why it may be worth it to trade a secure career for a fulfilling one
  • The importance of giving priority to your mental health when you need to, to allow you to bounce back and pick up where you left off

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“Don’t kind of postpone what you want to do simply because you think ‘Ah… I’m going to get tenure and then I’m going to have fun’. If you don’t learn to have fun every single day of your life, you’ll just forget about it. And then, your going to moan the rest of your life.”

“It’s good to be stressed – it brings adrenalin and then it brings you desire to go further. But don’t overstress and think that your life will be over if you don’t get professorship, because this is absolutely not true. And all the greatest successes, they start with a failure or several failures. I mean, success is the by-product of failure.”

“Not getting one thing is just… let yourself open to other things.”

“Train yourself to live in uncertainty because there is nothing certain, even if you have tenure track. I mean, your head of department might change, or you might hate them so much that you want to change jobs. Or if you are in the business sector, your company might go bankrupt at any time.”

Abel’s links: Twitter – @Abiquitous and @Scopusdiaries; LinkedIn –; Blog post on the SCOPUS diaries –; The 7-year postdoc –

You might also like the following episodes:

David (Viva Frei) Freiheit – Youtube content creator:

Tamarah Luk – Entertainment Law:

Kirsten Sanford – Science communication:

Inês Thomas Almeida – Musicology:

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