PhD

What it takes to be a Researcher

Apologies for the long time since my last post! As always I’ve been busy, and of the little free time I do get, I try my best to spend it outside and away from my laptop.

Today was the first day of the spring semester which means that the Uni is bustling with students again, buses are packed, the cafeteria is full and the atrium is constantly noisy. I’m not entirely sure if it is a good or bad thing yet, I liked how peaceful it was when the UGs were away, but it’s also nice to have the new energy back in the house.

This semester I’m going to be starting my duties as a TA- pretty scary stuff, especially since I’m not that much older (and I definitely don’t look any older) than the people I’m going to be teaching! Thankfully I’ll have seniors to guide me and the university offers quite a lot of TA training, so I’ll have an idea of what to do/how to act, but I’m still a little worried that the students won’t listen to this little girl trying to assert some authority over them.

I’m recently getting some results for my research too which is pretty awesome but it’s taken a long time. My seniors constantly remind me that results take a while to come but I’m so glad to finally be getting something. It’s no major breakthrough or Nobel prize winning find, but its a little something that I have been trying extremely hard to get and having no luck for the last few months, it feels amazing to be finally getting results.

I’ve always felt that research is not that hard and it’s something that everyone can do if they just have the passion for it but I’ve come to realize that actually, it takes a certain type of person to become a researcher. A few weeks ago I met someone who really couldn’t do research no matter how hard they tried, they just didn’t think like the rest of us. I am by no means the ‘perfect’ researcher, but I think (or at least I hope) that I do have the qualities to become a good researcher.

To be a good researcher, you need to constantly question your findings- why does this happen? Will this happen if I try this? What does it mean when this happens? How else can I make the same thing happen? etc etc. You need to be constantly asking and trying to answer your questions through experiments, trials -research. You may not always be able to answer your questions, but you should be able to get closer to understanding your findings.

I don’t apply this type of thinking just to my research, but to life. I constantly strive to become better and to question why I do things and to improve the way I do things. I’m not someone to stick to my comfort zone and coast through life, living in the same place, same people, listening to my parents and never thinking for myself. I try to step out of my comfort zone and urge myself to think for myself and be independent.

To grow as a person, we must question the way we do things, we must question the things other people ask of us and we must learn to survive without others to guide us. We must make mistakes and learn from them, in order to be able to understand how to improve the way we do things, just like in research.

I’m so glad that my parents brought me up to make my own mistakes- they would never tell me how to live my life, who to be with or prohibit me from doing anything. They give me guidance, but not orders and they offer support, not criticism. Perhaps it is this way of thinking that makes me adapt so well as a researcher- I was brought up to question things, not to follow orders. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no rebel and I don’t have a problem with authority figures, but I do question why I do things and how I can do it better, I will not do things blindly just because someone told me to do it.

If you’re one of those people that never questions things and just follows, just ask yourself- do you even understand why you do things? Do you think you might have better ideas? If you have better ideas, why not test them out?! Whats the worst that can happen? Just think for yourself for once, if you don’t you’ll never know what else is out there, just waiting for you to find it out.

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