Imposter phenomenon rife among academics

Why academics feel like imposters? #MSBlog #MSResearch

“The imposter syndrome is common among us researchers, which is one of the reasons why researchers tend to shy away from social media and public engagement.”

Some of you may find the following news piece of interest:

James Brooks. Imposter phenomenon rife among academics, studies find. Research Professional 11 May 15.


… The impostor phenomenon is a psychological condition first described in 1978. Sufferers are beset by unjustified feelings of inadequacy and live in fear of being ‘found out’ by others….

….. Holly Hutchins, an associate professor of human resource development at the University of Houston in the United States, carried out a pilot study of 61 academics, ….

…. The pilot study identifies “moderately high” levels of impostor phenomenon in the group and one statistically significant correlation: tenure track academics reported higher levels than tenured or non-tenured faculty members…..

…. The larger study also reports a rise in the phenomenon among tenure track academics, Hutchins says. That study highlights the importance of social support….

…. Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that the phenomenon is common in academia—it is thought to flourish among conscientious, achievement-oriented individuals and those working in competitive jobs—but studies of higher education have rarely investigated early-career researchers…..

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


    • Judging by some of the tripe they publish, some of my peers in the academic world are barely conscious 😉

  • Is this the reason for Grey Knights instead of white? Or is that in relation to grey matter and phenytoin etc

  • I thought you were going to expose the fact that Mouse was really an Iron Maiden groupie and not a Professor. I've always suspected this. Real Profs wear bow ties and don't have pony tails.

    • ha ha grumpy from tumbridge whales?
      Most profs with bow ties are bald…..ProfB says if you ve got it flaunt it;-)

    • Does this mean Prof Brian Cox isnt amayzing and is not made out of Staaaaaardust? 🙂 or maybe we have to change our world view of sterotypes:-)

    • pps it is largely our clinical colleges that wear bow ties and this largely to stop the tie dropping in someone's inners during surgery. However those days are of a bygone era and most docs are now tie-less. However, Dr.Giles is still quite dapper in his, but these days you don't have to wear a bowtie to be eccentric:-)

  • Peer review of grants and manuscripts, with abysmal funding rates, surely has nothing to do with this phenomenon!

  • I wish I could access the entire article – it would be interesting to read that many in academia believe they are not as smart as they think we think they are. … but working in academia for 25+ years as an underling, I figured that out years ago. Thanks for sharing this one.

  • I would suggest that Mouse Doctor improve his spelling skills or at least revert to using a spell checker. I think this will help him be not so self-concious and always being worried about being exposed.

    • oda pgg
      I have buttons rather than a zip so I don't get too worried about being exposed, especially when going commando.
      Yes you have to excuse my ingrish as I am a terible spella but its the problem of not being able to see what you type on a phone in between underground stations when you pick up wifi. This exposes my diasablity so nice of you to mention it.

    • Loads of thoughts on laquinimod……and we are currently recruiting for a trial in PPMS if people are interested we posted this on the blog a couple of weeks ago

By Prof G



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