Is day-to-day research boring?

Cathy Quinones quinones at
Sun May 5 20:52:44 EST 1996

In message <4mjd39$2ai at decaxp.HARVARD.EDU> - tchang at (Tawen
Chang) writes:
:>	i am a bio concentrator who is having second thoughts about what 
:>to do when i graduate.  i love science, and most of the time i don't 
:>think i can do without the adrenalin rush when i figure out a problem on 
:>problem sets, etc.  but i have also done some research internships, and 
:>they don't seem to be particularly exciting. i mean the concepts are 
:>always cool, but the day to day testing, pipetting, running gels, etc.  
:>seem to be a little, well, boring.  (Please, please don't flame me for 
:>saying this.)  a lot of the undergrads i have talked to agree with me at 
:>least to some extent.  

You've got to be realistic: a research project (in particular one of the
magnitude needed for a publication, thesis, etc...) doesn't happen overnight. 
Just like with any other long-term project, there's a planning stage, there's
trouble-shooting, there's the piddly day-to-day details... Research is
certainly NOT for everyone.  Personally (in grad school) I enjoyed the
planning stage, and the technique part and had much less enthusiasm for the
part where you repeat the process again and again.  However, that part is
critical because without good technique/experimental design and sufficient
sample sizes, your results don't count and your labor is wasted.  

:>my parents (who really want me to stay in 
:>science--unless i decide to go to med school instead) tell me that once i 
:>have my own research project it will be exciting.

It's exciting to some people.  I think that completing grad school (as a MS or
PhD) is a big accomplishment because taking a project from begining to end is
very educational and will really teach you a lot, about science and about
yourself.  However, grad school is not a piece of cake, it takes a lot of fire
in the belly, and getting to the point of *having* a project can be quite
grueling.  Taking the project to its conclusion is also hard, and if you
discover that you do not enjoy at least parts of the process A LOT, benchwork
is not going to be the thing for you.

:>since i think most of 
:>the people posting here do have their own projects, do you all think that 
:>my parents are right?  Or do you think if i don't like my internships i 
:>wouldn't like grad school and Ph.D, etc. either?

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