Sense About Science – thoughts after 4 weeks

Here I am at the end of my 4th week at Sense About Science.

Last day: time for a group photo
Last day: time for a group photo. Left to right: me, Victoria, Max, Chris, Ian, Julia and Emily.

What can I add to what I have already said? This internship has been an incredibly positive experience, both from a personal and a professional point of view. I cannot say I am sorry it’s over because I don’t think of it as something that’s over for me. I have been rethinking much of my research work in light of what they do here. I believe it helped me deciding what I want to do next, where I want my science to bring me.

We all love evidence-based claims, don't we?
We all love evidence-based claims, don’t we?

So, here are my 2cents for any postgraduate student wondering whether the Charity Insights project is worth trying or not.

I know we all are very busy with our research, we focus on that. Have you ever stayed longer in the lab just to start a last batch of analyses to run overnight, so that you could get the results in the morning and “spare” some time? Pressing the “pause” botton on your thesis sounds like a foolish thing to do. We are always running out of time, we always need more results, we are always under pressure from our supervisors and (in my case, at least) from ourselves to finish on time since, to put it bluntly, scholarships tend to end and we need to live on something. I know my industrial supervisors were quite skeptical¬†about me leaving for 4 weeks, for example.

My advice is to think about it as part of what makes you a good researcher. The literature reviews, the planning, the reactions, the analyses, the graphs, the presentations, the reports are all important but I don’t think they are the whole picture. Sometimes a step back puts things in a new perspective and can give us new energies. As a general rule I believe doing something different from our project is a good way to remind us how big the world is out there, and how many interesting things we can do as scientists, both in and out university. Then you can go back to your experiments knowing they are not just a solitary exercise of navel contemplation, but something really meaningful.

After last Friday afternoon, I closed the door behind me with a lot of thoughts in my head and a big smile on my face.

And a lovely goodbye card too.

All the best!
All the best!

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