Why should you further your career in alcohol policy research or related fields?
Drinking and alcohol issues and problems are entwined in daily life in societies like ours in Australia, and studying them reaches across many fields. So we who are in the field continually find ourselves in new and interesting research territories. Though it may be the territory of one or another academic discipline or profession, alcohol aspects tend not to have had high status as research subjects in academic disciplines and thus have often been neglected. So we often find ourselves opening up new ground. Speaking for myself, I have been in the field a long time and have never been bored.
If you want a research or academic career involving alcohol policy studies, sooner or later you will probably need to earn a PhD. But you may want to put off that decision until you are sure you have found the right track. And, anyway, becoming a researcher is not just a matter of academic training.
The most vital part, in my view, is some form of apprenticeship, where one learns how research is conducted, the material analysed and the publication put together by doing it, with advice from colleagues and mentors. There are various ways of getting this experience. One is by finding a job as a research assistant or junior fellow. Another is to take on an honours or masters research project as a student, with a mentor from a related field.
At CAPR, we are always willing to talk to a student about such a project. And you can find announcement of any jobs we have open here.
There are also other researchers, spread across Australia. Mostly, those not at CAPR who are working on alcohol policy research are single scholars, often on a university faculty. In the broader field of alcohol and drug studies, there are national research centres in Sydney and Perth, and a national training centre in Adelaide. There are also drug and alcohol research groups at the Burnet Institute and the University of Queensland.
If you are interested specifically in alcohol policy research, there is also the option of preparing for it by working on policy-relevant research in a field with strong intersections: say, homelessness policy, or leisure and tourism policies.
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