Mental Health (1)

A Durham University (UK) graduate has launched a free, global online networking site in response to academic needs and growing levels of poor mental health experienced by PhD students.

Bridging the gap in the existing marketplace, Scientistt brings together both an academic focus and a holistic approach. With academic CVs looking very different to business CVs, LinkedIn loses its relevance for many researchers. Current academic-focused platforms cater for publication sharing, but they do not provide networking tools and community spirit, which is in increased demand.

Scientistt is therefore specifically targeted towards academic researchers and students, allowing them to easily ‘meet’, collaborate, access research, take part in virtual networking events, develop skills, join special interest groups and contribute to blogs and journals. It also aims to tackle feelings of isolation that can often be experienced by academic researchers.

Scientistt’s founder, Hassan Mahmudul, a 24-year-old Master of Science by Research graduate, said: “Researchers tend to have just three sources of information about work in their chosen field: published literature, conferences and their supervisor.

“I know first-hand how easy it is to become focused on the specifics of your own work and lose sight of the bigger picture – meaning you could be missing out on collaborative opportunities or multi-disciplinary approaches. Networking is an essential part of the research process to generate new ideas, and prevent duplication of effort."

Hassan added: “Some of the brightest minds are working to solve the world’s biggest problems – yet they are often doing this in isolation. Research is a lonely profession and the current restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have intensified the need for connection and collaboration within the research community to maintain good mental health. We know that many research students see a decline in their mental wellbeing and today this is more challenging than ever.”

These experiences are echoed in a recent study from UC Berkeley. The research found that more than a third of graduate students reported moderate to severe depression, while more than 40% reported moderate to severe anxiety – far higher than the national picture in the US of 1 in 5 adults experiencing mental health problems.

Hassan said: “The site isn’t just academic papers and debates, it's about our lives as researchers. We have real conversations, blogs and podcasts on mental health and wellbeing – but we can tailor those to our student and academic audience as well making them more relevant. It’s about opening up a professional network that is supportive in terms of lifestyle and wellness as well as academic development and progress.”

Following a soft launch in March, Scientistt already boasts over 1,200 members from around the world, including over 40 UK universities. But now, with support from Durham City Incubator and North Star Ventures, Hassan and his small but growing team of graduate colleagues intend to grow this significantly, bringing the world’s fledgeling and established research communities into one place for support, growth and innovation.

Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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