anxiety enthusiasm knowledge research Researcher Special Guest stress

(32) Your own genius ideas generator

A systematic way to get genius ideas.

Getting excellent ideas consistently can be hard. The “20 ways thinking technique” is a practical way to continue to get new ideas. It is based on the observation that the act of thinking requires a lot of energy. Therefore, your brain develops automatic thinking patterns when faced with a problem. Getting new and original solutions for problems is therefore difficult.

The 20 ways thinking technique is a quick way to bypass these mental barriers and works as follows:

  • Define your problem as a question on a blank sheet of paper (For example, how can I speed up my most important project?)
  • Write down and number all the possible solutions to this problem.

If the problem is significant, the first 5 to 10 solutions you write down will be obvious, because they are generated spontaneously by the conscious mind.

Solutions 10 to 15 will be difficult because they require hard thinking and force you to create new associations. Your initial instinct is to give up and name a solution you already wrote down as the ideal solution. Don’t give in to this instinct and continue.

Solutions 15 to 20 are tough to get. However, force yourself to continue until you have written 20 solutions on paper. Oftentimes, the breakthrough insights and the creative ideas will be found in the last 5 solutions.

If you have used the 20 ways thinking technique, pick your best solution. Criteria could be ease of implementation, risk, cost or impact. Then, reformulate the solution into a new question (how can I…?). Perform another 20 ways exercise based on this question and you will be amazed by the quality of the new ideas.


Paul Rulkens is an expert in high performance: the art and science of achieving bold goals with the least amount of effort. More successful ideas, including his popular TEDx talks, can be found on


With love for Researchers,


anxiety enthusiasm knowledge research Researcher Special Guest stress

(31) High Performance: a curious secret.

‘The time spent on an agenda item in a meeting is inversely proportional to its value’.

This law is also known as the ‘bike shed fallacy of attention.’ It tells us that if the agenda of a team consists of two items (for instance the color of the new bike shed and the engineering details of the new high pressure reactor), invariably most of the discussion time will focus on the color of the bike shed.

This behavior seems odd, but it can simply be explained by two distinctive thinking patters. First of all, thinking is a high energy consuming activity, so we have the tendency to avoid thinking about difficult subjects as much as possible. The second reason is that it is much easier to just have an opinion (red looks nicer!) than to have an informed opinion (there is a mistake in the calculations of these safety valves).

Here are two ideas for a researcher to avoid wasting your time on the trivial, while ignoring the essential.

  1. Start every meeting with the most important and difficult subject and only move to the next agenda item when a decision has been taken. This behavior is called ‘Putting the Dead Rat on the table.’
  1. Start your own working day with doing the most important task first: this is also known as ‘Eating your Frog:’ if you start every day by ‘eating a living frog,’ you will have accomplished your most difficult and essential task and everything else during the rest of the day will be easy. More than 95% of the decisions we take in our life will not matter much: just pick one and go. Therefore, High Performance starts by acting boldly and focusing on those very few decisions which really count.

Let’s hear from you: as a professional, what is your experience with dead rats and living frogs?

Paul Rulkens is an expert in high performance: the art and science of achieving bold goals with the least amount of effort. More successful ideas, including his popular TEDx talks, can be found on


With love for Researchers’ hard work,



Academia enthusiasm happiness knowledge last years of PhD Launch passion research Researcher

(29) Researchista Public Launch + Board Game launch.

Intro: When life gives you lemons… It was the last year of my PhD.


I was so exhausted of editing, writing and thinking. My brain was boiling and flowing over its borders. Long hours in front of my laptop were not helping my RSI, neither to find a job. All I had to do in the last phase of my PhD was to: FINISH. I was so tired at that stage that there was hardly room to think of what I wanted to do in the future, but I felt that for me to go on, I needed to distract my attention on something that will make me feel good, something that would give me a perspective of what I was doing. After so much hard work, I did not want my thesis to stay dusty on the shelves and forget about it in a year. So, I thought to make a Board Game out of my PhD thesis. 

As if.. as if… that would give me a job or would have made me a better Researcher… But I knew that I had a point of view inside me that I was urging to come out. So I called ‘Leo’. Someone who was divorced and sad, with 2 children whom he could not see and slightly unemployed. While slightly looking for work, he would have had much more free time at hand that I did, and most importantly… he was so good at games.


The story: I don’t know if you have ever tried to develop a work project On-Line, meaning with someone who lives in another country, but in this project, I felt like I was on earth and the other person was on the moon and we were trying to somehow make each other understood with much precision, but there were always some things left out. On top of it, when you finally reached your ‘Online partner in crime’ and have calls like:

– Irina, I might be going to prison, so let me call you back in the afternoon.

– Oh, to prison! Ok, no problem, call me when you are done”

you understand, you are on probably on the right track… of.. life, full of challenges.

Please welcome to my online partner in crime, Leo (he does not like to be taken pictures, this is his dog). Without his help, I would have never figured out these rules and make a Board Game out of my thesis. He is extremely bright, but was never lucky with his degrees. An inquisitive mind, growing up when Soviet Union collapsed, which made him unlucky for many years. I called Leo to help me because he was good with gaming, he thinks fast and he had time. The only thing he was missing was the ability to be there on Skype appointments or be accessible on the phone, which is pretty much in what an ON-LINE partnership consists of…which made my mission most of the time impossible.

Phase 1


In the last phase, Leo found his Lionette


and the communication went so much smoother and with her help, we managed to test life and online multiple times the game and make it happen.


Phase 2

So, here it is, the game has real countries, real flags, real average wages in that country (average wage is not the minimum wage, is how much money on average people receive in that country), real average taxes for those wages.

Phase 3joint_old_new2

Important: it is impossible to have in highest precision all the numbers, because the situation can vary by case and the taxes also. For example, a family can be taxed differently in different countries; but these are as close to reality of 2015 as possible.

These are “MOBILITY ERA. Play your taxes!” points:

 heartHealth   emoticon Social crown.pngCountry points.
So here it is… after more than 2 years of Online and life communication attempts, after few times quitting and thinking it will never happened, it happened. Maybe one day I will tell you on how the entire game was designed in 24 hours…but I let leave that for another time 🙂 .


The first version of the game will be launched and available for you to take home at PAS Maastricht Festival, where Arts meets science! This is where I will reveal what is Researchista actually about and what was that ‘urgent urge urging’ out of me before finishing my PhD.


With love for Research,




boring enthusiasm Fashion future health knowledge research

(28) Fashion&Research, part4: your own little Research.

Isn’t it the case that we can all make a change in a our own little ways? Isn’t it the case that we still have the power over our lives and despite many saying “but what can I do” “things work the way they work” or “this is how things work, what do you want?”… “business is business” .. “someone’s got to suffer”, we can in our little own ways make a change, every single day as we rise?

So, fashion, clothes, is a topic that touches us all. Exactly, touching, because if there is nobody to give you a hug, your clothes are there for you every single day. It touches upon most of us, unless you go around naked all the time of course, which is also not an exception, but I guess, clothing and fashion is something that reaches us all to a large extent.

This week, I want to invite you to leave everything we know and learned about how our clothes are made aside (not many wanted to answer to the questions in my poll anyway! :):), so unfortunately, not many things we learned about our each others behaviours) and be a little Researcher for few days! 


Don’t be afraid, it is not going to bite and most importantly… nobody will know about it!;)

Ok, so what do you need? First, free some space on your hard-drive, ah, just kidding, find some space in your head to think about some things while cleaning your place or walking on the street and think… what is your own clothing-buying clothes-being fashionable behaviour?

Research has many methods, but the first step is to find what is it you need to find out. Is it why you buy too many clothes that you don’t wear? or is it why you do not have style you wish to wear in reality? or is it that you care about the environment and you are not satisfied with how things work in our day in fashion industry?

This is WikiHow, your first-aid tool in how to carry out your little research fashion experiment:

It has pictures of very serious and adult people on it, because Research is a serious business, but maybe my relaxed example below will encourage you to go for it!!


*Researchista’s little fashionista research experiment*

The goal of my little Research is to find out: where else can I buy clothes that are eco-friendly, friendly to the environment and respecting fair wages and rights of people? So, now that I know what I need to find out, I started exploring what options I see around me…

Ok, I can also stop buying clothes, but you know how difficult that could be in long-term. Is not that I am growing taller or changing sizes so quickly to need new clothes, but you know how much a colourful new blouse can do to someone in a dark grey day. By no means I want to promote shopping therapy, but sometimes it just really works 🙂 and one more thing. I am sorry, Mark Zuckerberg, I will never survive with similar grey or white t-shirts everyday. I am a woman and I need my colours and diversity in choices.


The alternatives found from my little Research: 

1) Vintage /or second-hand/

So, here I was, in Bordeaux talking to my friends about Researchista going fashionista. To be clear from the start: we love fashion. We like fancy clothes from the stores, but we also wonder if wearing second-hand clothes or vintage can be a feasible option?

None of us has ever worn anything from a vintage shop, so one time in Maastricht… we got ourselves these unbelievable cheap and nostalgic for 60’s clothes that we proudly wore on the streets of Bordeaux and Arcachon, France. (Ah, I love European Union, with its cheap flights, you can go anywhere you are lucky to go for a very very small price sometimes!)


We imagined about how women in those times were wearing these clothes, what they were dreaming about and how was it like to live in those times. An (bottom corner, the right lady) was going wild in the shop knowing that her dress is from 1950’s and was having a certain history. AnSo, was loving her synthetic brightly colorful dress (I still think cotton is the way to go), which fits her so well.


We went on exploring what vintage store Bordeaux has to offer to find to our big surprise, that Bordeaux is a lot about little cute vintage salons. You can see how modern vintage clothes can be and how nicely these can be combined with our every day life!

It proved to be not only a buying clothes alternative, but a great and fun experience with a flavour from various pasts. Thank you, Lionettes!

2) Tailors

But what if I need a working suit or a piece of cloth that I can not find in a vintage store? Or what if I do not like second-hand clothes? Then the tailors is second best solution, according to my Research findings. I could not think about Silvia, who is sewing on this amazing Greek island kids clothes, while having 4 children her own 😀 A lot of inspiration, hey! 🙂


Tailors can be found in any city you live and will be there to serve your taste. The only warning that you might consider is that it can take a lot of time.

3) Local brands

The alternative  I came up with is to buy from local producers. These are a sort of tailors, but at a larger scale. Their shops can be extremely cozy and welcoming. You can find there some original pieces of clothes that are produced maybe only 1 time. I love this brand for example, although it is not local to Maastricht where I live, I hope to find its counterpart in NL one day.

Sweet Paprika 

4) Vegan fashion (coming up)…


This was my little Research. What do you need to find out? What did you discover? Let me know below, I am really curious.

Most of all, a little Research can help you find your taste in fashion and your best options

Good luck!

And a little French tune from our trip to Bordeaux here for you


With love for Research,


Academia enthusiasm Environment Fashion future health knowledge research Researcher Special Guest stereotype

(27) Fashion&Research, part 3: wake up your motivation for change!

You can listen to the post here: 

“So, ok, I buy a new piece of cloth (a t-shirt, trousers or a dress) from H&M or Zara for example, because it looks good and has a nice price, BUT I know that if the price is low, it probably comes from less developed countries. The label confirms where my cloth is coming from (“Made in Bangladesh”, “Made in Romania” or the famous “Made in China”). I already know from social media how hard people work there and how bad they could be treated in such environments. Not all of them, but many of them are very badly paid and work in poor conditions, some people even die while making clothes. I also know that big companies have a lot of money to lobby for very small prices to sell more clothes around the world. Moreover, I maybe know that making a new pair of jeans for example requires a lot of water and to be done at a cheap price, the wasted water goes into rivers and pollutes a lot the environment. Oh, wait! Some clothes are not even good for our skin… But… what am I supposed to do? I feel bad for those people working for 1$ a day to feed a 5 children family somewhere in Asia, but I also get my clothes for a good price… I need to go to work looking decent and good, I want to impress my boyfriend or girlfriend. What am I supposed to do to not harm anyone, myself and the planet? Where am I supposed to buy my clothes?” I hope you had this chain-of-thoughts at least once.





I find that this picture captures very well the intention of a model when posing to advertise clothes or accessories (and by no means I want to insult any fashionista with this bad quality photo!:))).

This is the month of Research in Fashion on Researchista and this topic has been chosen both, because Researchista is inspired from the word fashionista and most importantly, I was impressed by the master thesis of Hasmik Matevosyan (Utrecht Art University, HKU), based on which she had recently published a book on this topic. So, I decided to spread a piece of Research knowledge to inspire you to do something with your master or PhD theses and to actually discuss about your own ‘buying clothes behaviour’ and what is happening in the fashion industry that so many people get hurt and underpaid.

By the way, another fantastic example of a thesis (not even master level, but bachelor!) is by Maikel Bereens (Maastricht University) the idea of which grew later in a company called Xilloc, that made the world’s first 3D printed titanium skull implant:”What started as a thesis project, emerged to the largest 3D printing company in The Netherlands. Xilloc prints implants, satellite parts and soon bone like material“(in de Volkskrant).

12246683_827345350697290_5641871685880267806_n      first_titanium_small-300x147.png

(Right) Maikel Beerens,

(Left) Book “Paradigm in Fashion”, author Hasmik Matevosyan.

No worries, if you have not written a thesis, enjoy this reading or simply support those who want to make a difference!

I am exploring what are the current challenges in clothing industry and what alternatives are identified in Research. Of course, there are many Researchers out there who examine this topic, but I only have access to one, so please keep that in mind…(always look for more opinions). Welcome Researchista’s Special Guest of the month: Ms. Hasmik Matevosyan. Here she is:

What is Hasmik is trying to do is to help fashion brands to get to know their target audience to offer them clothes that will be needed and desired. I also help fashion brands produce in an ethical and environmentally way by connected people with each other (ethical factories with brands for example). Last but not least, I help fashion brands make more profit by changing their business model: from the discounts and overproduction model to a model that makes it possible to buy new clothes for the full price, lend high quality clothes for a small sum and to buy the well designed and manufactured clothes with discount when it is offered second hand by the brand.

And if you think, new alternatives are not advantageous for fast fashion brands, our Guest is proving us wrong: This new business model makes it possible to make much more profit which enables brands to invest financial resources into paying fair wages, choosing for clean production processes and choosing for quality production.

I hope this information was useful to you as a consumer or at least gave you hope that at least someone has the same concerns for other people and the environment as much as you do. The model Hasmik suggests is for companies doing fashion, but what you can do for the time being is reflect on your own fashion behaviour, I invite you to join my initiative by filling in this questionnaire. Next week, I will share with you what came out as a result of my reflections on my behaviour towards clothes.

With love for Research,




P.S. Subscribe your email on my front page to receive weekly emails with a new post every Monday!

*Sneak preview for next Monday*

So, here I was, in Bordeaux talking to my friends about Researchista going fashionista. To be clear from the start: we love fashion.


to be continued here




Academia enthusiasm knowledge Magic 3 Policy research Researcher Researchista

(23) 50/50 Story

Listen to this post here:

You can now also listen to Researchista’s new audio channel  on SoundCloud:

Dear Researchista friend, today I have 3 stories for you in 1. The first is the introduction of the story. The second is the story itself and the third is a little story about me – and the first story goes like that:

The intro: I started this blog as a 1-year experiment in which I planned that every Monday, I would post a new story. So, I promised to myself that whatever happens, there will always be a post on a Monday day, regardless how sick or busy I would be. If I commit to my readers, I go till the end of the year, every week (52 posts of the 52 weeks of the year). And here I was, thinking for the first time since I launched Researchista that maybe… I should have no Monday post this week.

I realized that this is not a typical decision and I was trying to understand what ‘hypnotized’ me from keeping my promise? Apparently, after my post called “Magic element: Academia” part of the “Magic 3 and the Earth” short story that I wrote about Academia-Policy-Business , I froze. I felt like I opened the ‘Black box’ that once opened, it is simply difficult to talk about other things. By no means, I mean it in a negative way (although, there are some things that we can’t deny),


but I mean more that academia plays such an important role in our society and current economy that it is simply impossible to leave this topic in the shadow. Did you know that probably the biggest inventions in the world were actually done at the university? Read the book of Mariana Mazzucato, for example, called the  “The Entrepreneurial State” and she will tell you all about it (or watch some videos with what her views are on it). One of the her arguments is that big businesses and ideas like smart phones or facebook might never been here if it wasn’t for universities and we might never have enjoyed these at the price we have it now…

Indeed, no wonder I froze, I want to talk about it ALL, but I need to gather all my powers to stop and tell you bit by bit about what is happening behind the university walls.  Step-by-step, we will discover Research as you might have never imagined it before. 

To make the transition smoother from the Academic magic spell story to my next Month topic Fashion and Research (stay tunned), I will take this chance and talk about the 4th character of the “Magic 3 and the Earth” story and that is “50/50” concept that I attributed to myself and many others who are working 50% in academia and 50% do policy consultancy work for national or international organisations. Just take the 50/50 character as anyone who is carrying out activity and here .. and there.. it could be also 50% in academia or 50% in business or just in general anyone working in 2 different areas.

PhD students or just Researchers at the university are often encouraged to tell to other people about their research topic in simple words, so that anyone can understand it. This is why my stories will often sounds a bit like that, but I promise that I believe in your greatest potential and you know it all and have seen it all.

50/50 Story

The story itself: So, how does it feel to work in academia and do policy work at the same time? First, let us talk more about these 2 areas to understand how these work in practice. As we can see from the previous Magic 3 & the Earth story, both academic or policy have a certain cycle or mechanism on which in general things rely on. I am by far the most knowledgeable or experienced Researcher to enlighten you in-depth about these 2 worlds, but this is how I see it and I am open for discussions, please comment on my posts sometimes, ok? 🙂 🙂

Photo credit and copyright:

So, let us have a look at the cycles below. Hmm, very interesting beautiful circles, but what do these in fact mean? One seems to be busy with publishing (academia) and the other seems to be busy with solving problems (policy).

                             Academia                                                                 Policy

publish_cycle2                  policylifecycle

And now comes the part where I will imagine I am telling this story to a child or to anyone who is new to the topic. Let’s imagine how a bread is baked. Academia is probably the best environment to make the dough and balance the salt and other ingredients in it, until the perfect taste is created. It is then maybe overnight waited to make the dough softer and then.. you have to wait a little bit more till it is baked in the oven and voila the bread is ready. This is academia, perfect environment for growth, for steady, but certain growth……

This is why so many inventions were done on the university benches……. you can not come up with a perfectly tasty bread if you did not give it enough time to grow or bake! Well, you can, but remember my word, this will never be done with natural ingredients and basically, you will get an artificial bread.

Now, imagine that you burned your bread a little bit or even more or so bad that you won’t be able to eat it. Oho! You have a problem!


and this is when the policy comes in. First you have the problem, you see the problem definition on the top of the graph? Your problem is that the bread is burned and you have nothing else to eat. So you take your burnt bread and go to your mayor or any governmental representatives (also called civil servants) and say, look, I really need to it, so please help me out. Your mayor has to react to the problem and he would ideally say: Alright, let us put it on the agenda! Then he will try to develop a strategy around the problem to try solve and ask: How many guys are you? Why did you burn the bread? Maybe you need some training to bake a proper bread? (in policy, trainings are famous) and so on, until the problem is solved. That is the implementation phase. To see how well the problem was solved, the mayor one day drops by and evaluates whether everything is OK and you have a good bread back.

Policy won’t wait for you, it is always uptempo, there are many problems to solve in this world. It is a little bit like in business, but maybe risking less money and these are most of the time tax-payers money… because… a public policy is done by the government.  (By the way, you ever wondered if policy a synonym of police, you were almost there, but not quite. Police is also assigned by the government, but a policy can be in any public area you can imagine: security, transportation, food industry, cosmetics, electricity, taxes, social protection, technology, etc.)

That was it, in a nutshell, but more seriously, academia and policy go very good together.

A Researcher that works both for the academia and in public policy domain has the privilege to carry out two important roles: to help developing a theoretical ground for a certain problem in the academia and to promote academic findings to policy makers, based on these findings can make decisions that can improve the life of people that live in a country. Sometimes, public policies like in environmental area climate change can affect the life of millions of people around the world… but this would have never happened without scientific reports and warnings from the university walls.

Musical conclusion for all those going through the entire post:) There are probably many people who carry out their work in 2 different fields.. and this is challenging. I wish you find that mid-way and enough forces to successfully combine them and enjoy the best of the two worlds, and notice that just like in life we need to cope with fear and courage, perseverance and laziness, day and night, love and hate, struggle and sunshine on a beach.

The part about me: Alright, now that this is clear I want to share with you a little story-fact about me, because we have never met before and this is my first audio-post. So, why not letting me talk a little bit more.

So, this is me.

Irina te iubesc

Just kidding, I don’t look like that all the time. This is me on Christmas evening, feeling my best myself. When I was small, I was not that pretty, because my lips were big and the boys would tease me at school, calling me “big lips”, but there was a point when I remember how the same boys were queuing to dance with me when I returned for holidays to the school in the village where we used to live. This is when I knew that something has changed.

Later when I grew up, in professional environment I would always hope that nobody would notice that I have big lips and they would appreciate my skills and just simply who I am. Well, I still hope so, because after all, this is why it is called “professional” – nothing personal, right?

The reason why I share with you this picture is because you can see it, appreciate it and create yourself an image about me (a probably false one, because I do not look like that all the time)). Well, this is more difficult to do when you see a report or an academic paper or a policy study. You can not appreciate it only by having a look at it, you need to read it, understand it and then see how it it fits in where you need. Just for you to have an idea how difficult it is sometimes to communicate academic or policy outcomes in general.

This is was one very long post, congratulations, you made it to the final! 🙂


With love for Research,


Business definition enthusiasm ignorance knowledge Magic 3 Policy research Researcher Researchista stereotype

(19) Magic 3: Policy – Academia – Business

When I was small, “Sailor Moon” was one of my favourite cartoons, especially when she and her girlfriends gathered in a circle and took out their magic sticks with magic powers from the nature: fire, air, water and earth – to unite their powers and fight the evil… When these elements are apart they have one power, but when combined, they can create effects that could never happen independently. Just like in life, Research is useful, but if not discussed and transmitted further into policy or business, it might just stay there for years, without serving it’s purpose.

Please welcome the Magic 3 (fire, air and water) and the earth (you and me and everyone).


To avoid confusion, policy is not politics, nor police ;). Policy (or public policy or a policy in an area) is a governmental programme addressed to solve or to take care of a specific sector of public life; for example, energy. In the energy sector, there are people who install the electricity in your building and there are people who pay these people to do this work and there are people who decide how much will the electricity cost this month for all the citizens of a country (and by body, I mean, of course a group of people with a specific role, not the actual human bodies 😉 ). Although it might seem as if they do not talk between them, they all function according to a plan. So, that plan  – is a policy – created by the government with budget and right structure to make sure that area of public life will work.

So, here we are… a bunch of Researcher, each of us representing one of the Magic 3 elements (we are 5, since in Academia we are 2 types of Researchers and 1 is myself (how could I leave my humble self out of the photo-shoot). Am I missing a type of Research? What type? Who?

  • Academia: Experienced Researcher and Early-Stage Researcher
  • Policy
  • 50/50 academia-policy and of course,
  • Business Researcher
Photo credit:

So, let us start in order of the order with a small description about each beautiful and precious human you see in this picture:


Magic 1: Academic Researcher (Experienced Researcher, according to European Commission)

Please welcome the most stylish, elegant, classy man of Maastricht (according to me. I know such labeling is dangerous, but I simply can not help it, this gentleman does not stop being elegant probably every day of the year ).


Antoine P. Simons, doctorate graduate 2010 at Maastricht University: “As a clinical specialist in the cardiovascular field, working both efficiently and effectively demands up-to-date knowledge that can be derived either from basic research or from clinical trials. Without science, health care could never have reached the level it has today, and which I use to save lives. I either use the knowledge gathered by others, accessible via peer-reviewed publications and at scientific meetings, or by simply investigating myself. Setting up my own research helps me to become a better team member, colleague, teacher, supervisor and clinician in order to help those in need: patients I like to become healthy again!”

Magic 1: Academic Researcher (Early-Stage Researcher, according to European Commission)

Representing probably the closest to Researchista’s heart group of Researcher – PhD fellows, otherwise called, Early-stage Researchers. Say hi to one of the most engaging story-teller I know:


Ibrahima Sory Kaba, PhD fellow at the United Nations University – MERIT, Maastricht University: “Academic research is to economics what stretchers and legs are to a chair. It helps the discipline to stand on solid and firm grounds. As a Ph.D student in macroeconomics of development, the bulk of my work consists of controlling for potential causalities or building mathematical models, all rooted in a strong body of theory, with the main objective of guiding policy-making. Currently I am halfway of completing my Ph.D before moving on to new challenges. But as of now I am simply enjoying myself with collaborative academic research, weekly seminars and eye-opening teaching experiences.”

Magic 3: Policy Researcher.

As a former PhD at Maastricht University, she never ceased to impress with her talents:Photo-4

Olga J. Skriabikova-Coenen, Researcher at the Regional government of Limburg, South of the Netherlands [doctorate graduate 2014 at Maastricht University]: “I have a PhD in Economics and since two years I work at Limburg regional government. In my role as Strategy research and evaluation advisor I provide critical reflection on proposed research questions, methods and design. The main difference between fundamental research and policy-oriented, or in other terms, applied research is that policy research should ideally provide directly applicable results which can be used to address urgent policy matters. Formulating research questions in such a way that policy-makers receive information that they can use is therefore crucial. Another issue related to applicability is timeliness, since policy-makers need to be able to react quickly and cannot afford waiting for a year or more to plan a policy action. The other side of the coin is that policy research cannot provide the depth, precision and generality of conclusions of fundamental research. Nonetheless, high quality policy research is crucial for adequate planning, design, implementation and evaluation of policies.”

Magic 3: Business Researcher.

Maastricht is simply lucky to have Mark Lewis as it’s inhabitant, a genuine promoter and simply a model to follow when it comes to social equity and solidarity. I am honoured and privileged to be his friend.Photo Mark

Mark Lewis, Business Analyst at APG, Netherlands (one of the largest pension funds in the world): “I think Research is really important for business: ..” Listen here to what Mark has to share with us about the role of Research in his area.

Magic 1 & 2: Academia & Policy Researcher.

Welcome to your humble partner in crime for Research, Irina Burlacu aka Researchista.


Irina Burlacu, Lecturer at the Center for European Studies at Maastricht University and Researcher (in both academia & policy sector: 50%-50%). She believes in the strong (not yet valorified at its fullest) potential of Research in current societies and economies and wishes to promote this vision at more levels. Read more about it here.


At the end of every movie, the producers always remain with the pieces that are not included in the movie (the extras). Our producer, the professional photographer Manor Lux, whom I would like to thank very much for his patience and this very beautiful pictures, also had some extras, I believe this is one of it 🙂 The location is the good old “Cafe Zondag“, who let us feel like on a shooting platform (the location was chosen for you, my friends, who left Maastricht long ago).



With love for Research,


p.s. A special Magic 3 type of event takes place yearly in Maastricht. If you are part of one of the 3 elements, subscribe on their web-page or require information from the organizing group, as the following step is to create an app in the area of circular economy that would match partners from business-academia-policy, powerful….


p.s.2. You understand that most probably I am missing something in this diagram and that the truth is relative (for example, I did not include the international organisation or local communities and non-governmental organisations), but let us assume for now that it is like that.

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(18) Researchista: first 3 months.

Dear Researchista friends,

Our group is increasing and maybe is a good idea to summarise what Researchista is about and what have I been up to since the web-site was launched.


So, first things first. Researchista is about bringing Research in the mainstream. This is because at the moment, Research is probably not often seen as very hype or trendy, but without it would be no technological, medical or other type of progress. To pay a tribute to that, Research & Researchers on my web-site start with Capital letters 😉

What is Researchista doing? How is it organised?

1. My Facebook page is the dynamic display of Researchista. It’s updated almost everyday of the week and it’s organised in 4 parts:

[BLOG] section is transmitting the same post that is coming out on this web-site every Monday of the week. Also, from time to time, Researchista is inviting and hosting a Special Guest, who knows a lot about a certain topic and can hopefully help in one way or the other. In this sense, I had the privilege to host till now: Dr. Jimmie Leppink on improving writing performance, particularly for PhD students (see: My first paper,  Tips on improving your writing, Writing and Research design, Guest writer preview) and the Health Coach and expert, PhD Danielle Branje on anxiety in professional life (see: “Trust more, stress less“, “Prevention is the key“, “Tips to trick anxiety in your professional life” ).

One day, I hope to introduce you to my PhD supervisor, whose guidance was so valuable and inspiring, and that I hope you will also have the privilege to share some of it as well. But till then: in July, I would like to introduce you to a more laid-back, yet very topical topic, such as: the importance of fashion in our life. Our Special guests, Hasmik Matevosyan , who wrote the book “Paradigm in Fashion”, based on her previous Research, will share her unique model to deal with clothes mass-production and other-related topics. Attention: photos on the streets of beautiful Maastricht are included!


[PAPER OF THE WEEK] section is coming out every Wednesday (hopefully) and tries to encourage everyone to read academic papers, without fear 🙂

[BOOK OF THE MONTH] is coming out every 1st day of a month and is a recommendation of a book written by Researchers.

[WEEKEND] section is inspired by PhDs life style, who usually work so hard and do not always have a weekend. It tried suggests different ‘feel-good’ ideas, for example:final

2. is a web-site that puts you in closer touch with Researchers’ life. Here, you can find out who can be qualified as a Researchers, how many are we in the world, what types of Researchers exist, these sort of more conceptual questions for you to familiarize better with who we are. On another hand, this blog is addressing various PhD related issues and questions, including: writing performance tips, health, life style, etc. Most importantly, it has the goal to put on the table for discussion.


3. My Twitter is another useful source that summarises fast and painless what Researchista is up to weekly.

Voila, this is me and all I had to say this time. Enjoy June, they say  – the month of new beginnings! 😉


With love for Research,



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(17) Anxiety during PhD (3): trust more, stress less.



 As symptoms of anxiety can hold you back enormously in your career, it is essential to open up the discussion about this topic and to share knowledge and tools that help you manage and prevent anxiety. This blog/video is made with the goal to help you as a Researcher to feel good and achieve great results in your career. This is not in any way a replacement of medical care and if you experience severe anxiety symptoms, make sure to contact a medical professional.

In the previous videoHow to make sure that anxiety is not holding you back” I shared with you the difference between anxiety and fear and you learned that people with anxiety are often living with their mind in the future.

In this video I am going to share with you two simple (and free) exercises that will help you to calm down your mind, to stop living in the future and start living more in the present moment. These exercises will help you to trust more and feel less stress.

I wish you an inspired and ambitious career without sacrificing your mind, body and soul.

By Daniëlle Branje,

Health Researcher & Trainer/Coach
Sign up and receive my feel good emails: 

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(8) Hello dear PhDs, how are you?

We hope that our post finds you well. Nobody knows better than yourself what is the best way to advance in your PhD. You are the boss of your life, of your time and the master of your skills. We trust you are making the best of it and hope that the posts to come in April will help and inspire you with new ideas or different approaches to solve your challenges and concerns. Isn’t it more joyful to have a companion on the road, at least for a while?