Overcome imposter syndrome: Contribute to working groups and build strong networks

Amanda E. Bates, Megan A. Davies, Rick D. Stuart-Smith, Natali Lazzari, Jonathan S. Lefcheck, Scott D. Ling, Camille Mellin, David Mouillot, Anthony T.F. Bernard, Scott Bennett, Christopher J. Brown, Michael t. Burrows, Claire L. Butler, Joshua Cinner, Ella Clausius, Antonia Cooper, Mark John Costello, Lara Denis-Roy, Graham J. Edgar, Yann Herrera FuchsOlivia J. Johnson, Cesc Gordó-Vilaseca, Cyril Hautecoeur, Leah M. Harper, Freddie J. Heather, Tyson r. Jones, Anthony C. Markey, Elizabeth Oh, Matthew Rose, Paula A. Ruiz-Ruiz, Jose A. Sanabria-Fernandez, Jasmin M. Schuster, Joanna K. Schmid, Susan C. Baker

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Scientific working groups bring together experts from different disciplines and perspectives to tackle the “wicked problems” facing natural systems and society. Yet participants can feel overwhelmed or inadequate in groups within academic environments, which tends to be most acute at early career stages and in people from systematically marginalized backgrounds. Such feelings can block innovation that would otherwise arise from gaining the full spectrum of unique perspectives, knowledge and skills from a group. Drawing on personal experiences and relevant literature, we identify ten contribution strategies, ranging from generating ideas, analyzing data, and producing visuals to supporting facilitation. Next, we share approaches for an inclusive and supportive process, considering the roles of both participants and leads. Generating the most productive and relevant outcomes from working groups requires engaging the full team in a constructive and supportive environment. We advocate that adopting inclusive approaches that respect the diversity of personality types and perspectives will lead to more innovative solutions to achieve conservation and sustainability goals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110566
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Conservation
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2024


  • working groups
  • strategies
  • conservation
  • ecology
  • imposter syndrome
  • early career


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