Research is a team effort. Scholars distribute roles based on the different research activities they perform. These roles shape the academic profile that will define them during their career trajectory. These roles will also change as they acquire experience and seniority. Some scientists coordinate, design and lead research agendas; others develop and produce new tools and software for data collection and processing; others develop conceptual and theoretical frameworks; others engage with non-academic stakeholders and bridge with societal demands.
However, most research evaluation schemes consider career paths as homogeneous, promoting ‘scientific excellence’ and ‘academic leadership’ as the main and desired profile researchers should aim at, without considering the underlying diversity of roles and activities. To unveil this diversity of academic profiles and career options scientists have, we aim to provide novel insights into different professional paths and skills necessary in scientific research. This is an essential step towards developing more nuanced and advanced research evaluation approaches, maximizing researchers’ strengths and acknowledging the heterogeneity needed in the scientific workforce to promote a healthy and sustainable research system, compared to the monotonous situation that currently exists.