Research

Oct. 23rd, 2009 12:49 am
lihtox: (Default)
[personal profile] lihtox
I envy Jen her full-time research position (not to mention the tenure-track part): I know that there's a lot of bureaucracy involved, but that still leaves a lot of time to do research in, where it's your top priority. Doing it in drips and drabs, as I have done during the past five years or so, is so much harder: harder to keep track of what's going on from week to week. I sometimes wish that I could have that kind of time.

And yet, I DID have that kind of time to do research. It was called graduate school, and post-doc. And I hated it; I was miserable and largely unproductive. I think there were good reasons for that: in both cases I was doing someone else's research, working on a problem I didn't really think had a solution, solely responsible for all the technical details while my advisor handled the big picture, so that I had no one to talk to about the nitty-gritty problems I had. I was paralyzed by anxiety all the time, and so progressed very slowly, and I was very lonely. Maybe things would be different if I found a job like this again: I could work on problems I was actually interested in, I could find collaborators, I could be a little less worried about my reputation and a little more willing to ask for help maybe. But I'm not really convinced that that would happen. All too often, I have great ideas about what I want to do with my time, only to start and find my motivation being replaced by overwhelm and anxiety: how should I start, is this too much for me, did I make a mistake that will render all of my results invalid (I found bugs in grad school that wiped out months of data, a few times), is this really the best use of my time?

I'm trying to keep my research going. I've got a collaborator in Boston, and we're fighting to get a paper published in PNAS (a pretty impressive journal). I'm trying to get something going with an ecologist here in Toledo; we haven't come up with research per se yet, but we are meeting weekly (or at least, we're trying to), which I think is an important first step.
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