Friday, 24 June 2016

Scientific research cannot be done

without access to the proper facilities.
My doctor nephew is doing some research at present. Like any intelligent young doctor he knows that he needs to know more. If the young doctor plans to "specialise" then research is essential.
The same is true in other areas. There was a time when it was considered that simply going to university and getting a first degree was enough to get a good job - sometimes a very good job. People rose to the very top with just that.
Now that is just the first step on the ladder. You go from a "Bachelor" degree to a "Master" degree to a "Doctor". And even that is not enough in the world of academia because there are always "post-doctoral studies". 
I have not done "post-doctoral studies" - well, not formally at university. I have done plenty of study. It's been essential. 
But I don't work in science. I work in psychology, linguistics and communication. It's simple stuff compared with the sort of thing my nephew is doing. He spends his days in a darkened lab staring down a microscope and counting cells. He has to do the same thing over and over again with just the smallest of variations. It is not "exciting". 
I remember one of my fellow students in London complaining to one of our lecturers that they had thought research would be "exciting". No, it isn't. Most of the time it is, quite frankly, boring. It just has to be done. The outcome might be exciting or lead to something exciting but the process is not exciting. 
And it gets worse when you don't have the proper facilities to do it. My nephew is working in difficult conditions now. They are about to get worse. The new facilities they are supposed to move into are actually smaller than those they now work in. His supervising professor has tried to explain that there isn't sufficient space to do what they are now doing let alone expand their work. He has been saying this since the design of the new building was first made known. The planners and architects didn't listen. Why?
There's no money either. When he is not at the lab my nephew works in hospitals - in order to be able to eat. Soon though he also has to do an extended stint to replace a Registrar going on leave and, due to the peculiarities of the system, he won't get paid for doing it - you see at the beginning of the year he was supposed to get a research grant to cover his expenses but it hasn't "come through" yet. 
I wonder about all this. He isn't the only young doctor in this position. I know that. He knows that.
I also know that when I need to go and see a doctor I expect them to be well trained and very competent. Isn't it time we at least paid them so they can do their job?


Adelaide Dupont said...


I think primary school kids have more sense of the boredom and tedium of research than is developed later on. It does seem that this adolescent surge of energy and idealism goes through.

Good luck for your nephew and the equipment. Storage is important and so are the other stages of processing information.

I write as one who knows at least psychology and linguistics are not simple. Wonder what nephew thinks when he deals with things in these fields?

catdownunder said...

Hah - nephew looks at me and says he knows nothing about them but thank goodness someone does!