Early Career Researcher Highlight: Dr. Pavlov Bargár

Name: Dr. Pavol Bargár
Institution: Protestant Theological Faculty, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic
Field of Study: Theology
Bio: Pavol is a researcher at Charles University in Prague where he received his Th.D. in 2009. Earlier this year, his postdoctoral research was published as Narrative, Myth, Transformation: Reflecting Theologically on Contemporary Culture (Jihlava: Mlýn). His academic interests lie in theological interpretation of culture, missiology/intercultural theology, and interfaith relations.

What was the most difficult hurdle you had to overcome as a researcher?
I would say it is my human nature that I need to overcome day by day. To stay focused, to concentrate on the tasks ahead of me, not to get distracted by a multitude of impulses, be they noble or less so – this all takes a lot of effort. And I guess this struggle will stay with me as long as I will be involved in academia.

Another hurdle I should mention is a certain sense of anxiety regarding one’s future. As a researcher whose salary comes from time-limited (usually 3-year-long) research projects, I need to start preparing a proposal for my next project when my current research is about a half way through. Moreover, there is only some 20% chance that one will actually get the requested funding.

Did you feel you had enough resources at your disposal when you were crafting your research and submitting it to an academic journal?
I think the digitalization of scholarly resources and their online availability represents a major milestone for researchers. It is amazing how much material one can access and download from the Internet via various scholarly databases and platforms. Although much of these resources are freely available in full-text versions, one should not overlook the fact that the top-quality resources are often charged with expensive fees.

I am very fortunate to have access to numerous academic resources thanks to my institution. In addition, my theological school has a good-quality library that researchers can take advantage of. Furthermore, I have some funds available for traveling to other academic institutions to pursue research there if our library does not have the resources needed. To answer the question, then, I can say, yes, I had and have enough resources at my disposal. However, I also believe that the mainline academic system significantly disadvantages free-lance researchers with no institutional affiliation.

Nevertheless, I should say that there have been situations when I felt I did not have enough resources available. It was on a few occasions when I pursued research on a topic on which there was virtually no existing scholarly literature. That was, on the one hand, one of the difficult hurdles that I had to overcome, but, on the other hand, I felt my work was original and, hopefully, meaningful.

“…my human nature that I need to overcome day by day.”

What advice would you offer the early career Humanities researcher?
Be perseverant and untiring. Do not get discouraged. Try to get as much feedback on your work as possible, both from people within your discipline and beyond. Actively pursue networking – research can be a lonely business, and more good colleagues means more opportunities. Always keep reminding yourself why you do what you do. And do not forget to enjoy yourself.

What do you wish someone “in the know” would have told you earlier in your career about the publishing process?
One thing I would mention is the realization that the publishing process is a long-distance run with many phases of writing and rewriting, thinking and rethinking. It is always good to keep in mind that the researcher’s reward is not only the published article, but also the research itself, the gift of being able to pursue knowledge and be engaged in the global academic discussion.

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