Jin Cangyu: Problem-Oriented Interdisciplinary Research Can Lead to Unexpected Results

Postdoctoral fellows are a living symbol of young, highly qualified talent. In less than a year, Jin Cangyu, Postdoctoral Fellow of Management Science and Engineering at Zhejiang University School of Management, has received successive provincial and national level awards, which is not common in the postdoctoral community.

Jin Cangyu not only won the "Zhejiang Province Philosophy and Social Science Excellent Achievement Award" as the first author, but also successfully applied for the "National Natural Science Foundation Youth Fund Project". As an interdisciplinary researcher, she has shown us the scientific research power of the postdoctoral community.

With the accumulation of her doctoral thesis, Jin Cangyu insists on problem-oriented interdisciplinary research. Curiosity and serenity, seemingly contradictory attitudes towards life, have become her inexhaustible driving force on her research journey.

Please briefly present your two most recent research successes.


The award of the Prize for Philosophy and Social Sciences is closely related to the work I published during my doctoral studies. During my doctoral studies, my main research area was agricultural economic management, and I realized that food safety risks are one of the biggest challenges in most countries around the world. Therefore, together with my PhD supervisor and Professor Zhou Weihua, I focused on the risk-based management of food supply chain and successfully published our research article in the international journal Management Science.

Another successful proposal for the National Natural Science Foundation Youth Fund project is to identify the transmission mechanism of antimicrobial resistance in foods of animal origin from a supply chain perspective, providing inspiration and guidance for industry research and regulation.

Can you please describe your approach to selecting research topics?


I think for many academics, the difficulty in choosing a topic is that some topics seem good but are not feasible; some topics may seem promising and useful, but there is already too much research to get through; some research with practical application value does not necessarily have academic value, and it is also important to find its academic value.

When choosing a topic, I am often curious, gather experience from previous research, am inspired by exchanges with colleagues and find a direction through interdisciplinary research.

When choosing the topic for my "MS thesis", I tended to rely on a combination of data and literature. With a curious eye, I explored the innovation of research in the literature and improved the whole research topic from the line to the frame. The selection of the topic for the "Self Science Project" is also based on my previous research findings on food safety risk management in the aquatic product supply chain. With a curious perspective, I explored the gaps and gaps in related research and gradually developed ideas and research methods.

Here I have put together several channels for you to search for topic selection. First, read the latest academic journals, where future research directions are usually suggested in the discussion section. Secondly, attending professional conferences and seminars and exchanging ideas with like-minded people can give me further ideas. And finally, a literature review can help us to accurately identify the gaps in current research.

How does “curiosity” help you to complete research that is already underway?


Curiosity can help me to remain resilient in scientific research. Scientific research is tedious and tedious, and aimless exploration and repetitive polishing can make the research process lack freshness and fun. The reason I can persevere in scientific research is that I approach the entire research process from a curious perspective. My field of research is agricultural products and food safety. In my daily life, I often ask myself how we can all eat healthier and safer. This curiosity is also the starting point for many of my research projects.

I also have some research experiences and suggestions to share with everyone. First, stay curious. The most important thing in the scientific research process is the innovation of research. The logic of research is to discuss the innovative points, and the research results must reflect innovation and significance. Only by maintaining curiosity about the chosen topic and a rigorous attitude toward all data can one achieve high-quality scientific research results. In addition, one should also pay attention to writing ideas and details. My research problem stems from a common problem of several disciplines, and the difficulty lies in the comprehensiveness and scientificity of describing common problems. Therefore, it is more important to take a problem-oriented approach. That is, regardless of which discipline the data comes from, it is most important to research the problem effectively. Finally, if time permits, patiently tweak the format of words, punctuation, diagrams, etc.

How can one maintain a calm mind when facing difficulties in scientific research and submission?


Keep a "calm mind", do a good job of building yourself up mentally, do not be impatient or anxious, believe in yourself and do not set your expectations too high.

I usually set a goal big enough to not be ignored by myself, but I pull it far away from certain things in life and then find a sense of accomplishment in small things, like finding a whole new perspective and effective research method in a piece of literature and using the academic accumulation piece by piece to drive away fear.

During the submission process, it is also important to keep a "calm mind". Scientific research is a "protracted struggle" and one should be prepared to submit articles that may be revised or even rejected several times, answer questions from different reviewers, and extract effective and improved key points from the reviewers’ opinions.

Scientific research does not consist of the courage of a single person, but often requires teamwork. What are your suggestions for finding collaborators and teamwork?


In my opinion, good employees are rare and hard to find. We should try harder and actively look for them, but also keep a "calm heart" and respect the rules of fate. The most important thing when selecting employees is to find people who are genuinely interested in research. I often look for like-minded partners through two channels.

First, attend relevant conferences locally. You don’t have to limit yourself to on-site meetings; daily academic presentations, small seminars and online presentations are also acceptable. At such seminars, find researchers who have similar or complementary research directions and content to yours, and then identify the possibility of collaboration through further communication. Secondly, actively contacting the authors of the literature and suggesting your own research ideas and their feasibility is also a good way to attract their interest.

In addition, I suggest that young scientists pay attention to communication and respect and recognize the contributions of each member in the process of team collaboration. When it comes to issues of interest, it is important to resolve them promptly and positively without backing down.

What difficulties have you encountered in your research career? How did you overcome them?


Actually, I have always had to deal with procrastination, and this problem has plagued me too. It is difficult to change, although I am aware of the problem. Many students and classmates may have experienced this situation.

I remember when I applied for the CSC National Scholarship to study abroad, I almost missed the deadline due to procrastination, which made me determined to tackle and solve this problem.

My way to overcome procrastination is to have a calm mind and go to bed and wake up early. Take timely action, but do not put too much pressure on yourself or it can lead to a psychological reversal and make it harder to solve the problem. Many researchers may be used to staying up late, but for me, going to bed and getting up early can ensure that I have more time during the day and can work with more energy. I will also set myself a deadline on the main screen of my phone to constantly remind myself and avoid procrastination.

What are your expectations for the future research path?


On the future path of scientific research, I will continue to work hard, explore theoretical gaps in the discipline with curiosity, and face setbacks and difficulties on the path of scientific research with a calm mind. I will take a problem-oriented approach, devote myself to interdisciplinary research, and strive to achieve more high-quality scientific research results. I also wish all colleagues and fellow students to enjoy the twists and turns and beauty of the scientific research path, conduct interesting scientific research, and add joy to life through scientific research.

- As a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Management of Zhejiang University, Jin Cangyu actively and conscientiously promotes innovation in interdisciplinary research and provides academic and theoretical support for practical problems in daily life. 

- You can read the original article in Chinese  here