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Rebel without a cause!

Friday, March 02, 2007

perils of being a researcher

The last year of having been a member of the research community has taught me a lot about the attitude of being a researcher. It has been a great change from the causal going undergrad life where the law of diminishing returns was well understood. If you can spend 1 hour to get 8 out of 10 in an assignment and need to give 2 hours to get 10/10, then there is no contest. Take the first option anytime.

But things work differently in research. You have to be very accurate with what you present as your result, for people are literally hovering around as vultures to find any dead meat. But then this also, keeps you competitive and on your toes.
Another aspect, is that you take infinite trouble to go through each step of your reasoning. For you now know, sometimes by experience, that even a small logical error can have big big repurcussions.

While this attitude is commendable, I sometimes worry if it is practical. For in real life, you do not usually have the luxury of lots of time to go through each step carefully. You have to make decisions on less than sufficient knowledge. And take risks. Perhaps, I am concerned, that I am losing this ability while I am gaining the researcher's patience and stick-to-itivness.
The only solution that I can think of, is to take some side project in another topic where apply your old undergrad fundaes. But then that is easier said than done!

Addendum: A few hours after writing, I feel a bit stupid, because I dont think that my research skills are so developed that I can actually critique this mindset. But still, I am leaving this post as it is because this is a flaw that I believe exists and I suspected about this even in my undergrad days and mys suspicions are only getting stronger.
Overall, I guess it would be better to have the researcher mindset because there are tons of problems in life where you do have lots of time to analyze most of the decisions and then act. But in some activities, like in volatile business trading, socializing etc, the time available is pretty less.


Mosilager said...

The ideas behind the research have to be well thought out. That's why people talk about their ideas and methods to determine the answers to each other, hoping that somebody can spot a flaw. Otherwise it's a lot of time and money down the drain.

In the future we will have to convince a funding agency to give us money to do something. They will only get convinced if we have good ideas and have thought them through.

Keep practicing and it'll get easier. The training will be worth it someday when you have to present your work in front of an audience of competitors who are smarting that you got the grant and they didn't!

Sreekumar said...

Thanks for the advice, Mosi!
I appreciate it.

Mosilager said...

cheers, best of luck