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Faculty of EducationUniversity of TampereFaculty of Education

Pirkko Pitkänen

  • Professor of Education
  • Field of Expertise in Education Policy and Multicultural Education
  • After graduation no plans to become a researcher
  • While teaching and working at the university, accumulating pressure and interest to become a researcher
  • Being unemployed after dissertation, raised research funding and employed her self
  • Has been a researcher ever since

Researcher's Corner

A career in science is a matter of chance

After graduating in history, now a professor of education, Pirkko Pitkänen was certain, that she would never become a researcher, not being persevering enough. Later, when working at the university, she started feeling pressure to start on a dissertation and become a researcher.

- The toughest part was to realize that after the dissertation nobody was interested anymore. I thought I had done a good job that mattered. After the dissertation, I was unemployed for a month and was feeling very desperate. I decided that mourning wasn't going to get me anywhere, and so I found out about research funding and employed myself.

Professor Pitkänen says that what a researcher needs most is creativity and determination. Research is a way of self-realization. Before becoming a researcher, Professor Pitkänen put her creativity into painting, but she has given it up since.

As a researcher you have to keep your nose to grindstone. You need to do a lot of thinking and you need to have good human relations skills to lead and coordinate research projects. A positive side of research work according to Professor Pitkänen is just that - a possibility to work with other people. The projects she has led have been both multidisciplinary and multinational. Doing research in co-operation with different disciplines and  accross different cultures is challenging and fascinating at the same time.

Researcher - a super human?

- If you want to gain research funding these days, everything has to hit the spot. You're bound to fail a lot and you may feel being unfairly judged by the feedback you get. But you have to learn not to take it personally. It's just a process that you need to go through.

Listening to Professor Pitkänen talking, you realize how high expectations researchers are faced with. It seems like researchers should be some kind of super humans, as Professor Pitkänen puts it.

Pirkko Pitkanen

- Even though luck has it's part in gaining research funding, you mustn't give in, but keep on going. You'll get lucky in the end. A researcher needs determination and persistence.

Doing research is like any other creative process: at different points of your research process you will feel uncertain about if you are going to succeed or not. According to Professor Pitkänen, the process of writing is like an exiting journey with an ever present possibility of success and failure. A researcher is never going to know beforehand what lies ahead and what the results will be.

- When you start writing a new research the uncertainty of success is always present, but in the end you usually succeed. The process is often arduous but rewarding.

Text: Terhi Meriläinen
Photo: Jonne Renvall
Translation: Päivi Svärd

28.11.2013 / 20.12.2013

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Last update: 20.12.2013 14.35 Muokkaa

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