Margaret Tan1, Jonathan S. Herberg1, Celestial Yap2,3, Dujeepa D. Samarasekera4 & Zhi Xiong Chen2,3,4,5,6

1Institute of High Performance Computing, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore; 2Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore; 3National University Cancer Institute, National University Health System, Singapore; 4Centre for Medical Education, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore; 5KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore; 6Office of Student Affairs, National University of Singapore


Given the high investments in training and mentoring graduates who have chosen the research career path, and considering a high attrition of these graduates moving on to non-research type of careers, it is important to understand the factors that motivate young scientists to stay on the job as they could make important contributions to a better world with their scientific endeavours. It is in this context that we conducted an exploratory study to understand the factors that may drive the scientists’ performance as well as their expectations to remain in the research career paths. We found evidence for an indirect link (through research commitment) between need-for-cognition and career performance as well as evidence of an effect of research commitment on the anticipated research career length. There was also evidence that continuance commitment (but not other extrinsic factors) affects anticipated research career length, and that organisational support is linked to perceived research performance. Implications of our findings for student selection and graduate mentoring are discussed.

Keywords:        Research Career Path, Scientist’s Motivation, Graduate Mentoring, Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations

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