• Question: what is it like being a scientist

    Asked by vincent6rr to Tomas, Richard, Reka, Paul, Omar, Oliver, Laura, Kevin, Kat, Judith, James, Hannah, Hannah, Gill, Gemma, Freya, Emma, Ed, David, Ceri-Wyn, Bobby, Anthony on 7 Jan 2019. This question was also asked by finster6rr, marcusxmas18.
    • Photo: Laura Nolan

      Laura Nolan answered on 7 Jan 2019:


      For me being a scientist involves trying to answer important questions in my field with an approach that no one has ever used before to answer those questions to ultimately improve human health. For me this is incredibly exciting as at times it can feel like you are the first one to have such an idea or to come up with a concept and might be the only one in the world to have that piece of knowledge! The next step is to publish that new idea, concept or answer and share it with the scientific community. This is also very rewarding as you can see a small idea grow into something larger which can contribute to your particular area of research. Following on from that it is also really exciting to see how others in the field respond to your published work and how they build upon it with different or additional ideas and questions to start the whole cycle of question-answer off again!

    • Photo: Judith Sleeman

      Judith Sleeman answered on 7 Jan 2019:


      Depends on the day! Sometimes very exciting, if you have a new result or a new idea to work with. Sometimes rewarding, if you’ve just published a paper or brought in some money to pay for some new research. Sometimes frustrating and demoralising, if you’ve just had a paper rejected by a journal or had a funding application turned down.

      Usually a mixture of the above!

    • Photo: Gemma Chandratillake

      Gemma Chandratillake answered on 8 Jan 2019:


      I think being a scientist is a way of thinking rather than a job title! Obviously there are professional scientists who “do science” as their career but you can apply scientific thought and practice to many things that you do. We generally think about science as shedding light on the natural world but you can use the practice of questioning, observation, hypothesis generation, data gathering and analysis in many situations; if you consider humans part of the natural world, it is hard then to draw lines about when science stops and other things begin. Thinking scientifically means that instead of making assumptions about the way things are, you ask questions and test ideas. If you want to make make something happen, you can use these systematised scientific approaches to inform how best to accomplish that (e.g. marketing companies will often gather lots of data and test different approaches systematically – we don’t really call that “science” but in some ways they are studying human psychology quite scientifically).
      I quite like this explanation: https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/science/en/

    • Photo: David Howard

      David Howard answered on 11 Jan 2019:


      Being a scientist is a lot more than just doing research. There are many different things that you might end up doing during the day and here are a few of them:
      – Writing up research
      – Helping others with their research
      – Communicating science to others, such as I’m a Scientist
      – Making presentations in powerpoint
      – Talking about our work at conferences and meetings
      – Teaching others about science
      – Answering emails
      – Getting your work published
      – Writing grants to get funding for future research

      It is great being a scientist and it never gets boring….

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