Thursday, November 19, 2015

Five reasons why we could and should love our research

Scientific Research. The term itself is widely associated with boredom, long sleepless nights, stress and aimlessness. With all negative factors attributed to it, here we are, swimming against odds in scientific research stream to make our own mark. Keeping all convictions apart, thinking with an unbiased mind can actually give us quite a few good reasons to love scientific research, which has become a part of our lives. 

From mentee to mentor

As we enter the cutthroat competitive world of scientific research, we are na├»ve and fresh. Research, being a time consuming process, gives us ample time to get mentored, polished and trained by those experienced intellectuals around us, who struggled through these same paths and made it to the top. Learning is an active process in research. We learn by observing, reading, comprehending, proactively participating, contributing, critically analyzing as well as getting evaluated and constantly appraised. The development occurs in varying realms of human character including academic, intellectual, personal, social and interpersonal levels. Our professional and personal lives evolve in unison to a state where we become equipped enough to mentor the younger generations exactly from the point where we started. That is a beautiful and fulfilling journey. We have come a long way from the periods of self-taught geniuses and taboos linked to science. Today, each of us can choose how and from whom to learn and eventually how and to whom to propagate that wholesome knowledge. 

The pleasure of discovery

To be honest, most of us got into research in the first place because we did not clearly know what to do after earning a master's degree. Whatever glorified reasons we convinced ourselves, interview boards and potential mentors, there was one small part of our brain which was honest enough to admit that we really didn't have any idea what to do with life. As we move forward in our snail pace scientific journey in graduate school and initial years of post doctoral training, our aims may still not be clear to most of us. But as we progress, co-evolving with science, influencing each other, we find ourselves in a unique spot where we actually enjoy the very prospect of finding something new and useful. We get excited at the prospect that our small but significant finding can actually be a stepping stone to a greater good of humanity. It's a matter of immense pride and pleasure to know that our efforts could unravel the mysteries of universe a tiny bit more and help man understand life a tiny bit better.

A noble reason to gain knowledge

Knowledge has never come free of cost. We pay right from our schooling years to gain knowledge. How many times have we thought not to vest time in gaining knowledge in a particular subject just because we couldn't find time to learn or afford to pay for it? Moreover, as we move forward in our respective careers, we have to take time off from our professional lives to get time and energy for gaining additional knowledge. That's where we become lucky. Here we are, officially assigned in a profession where we get paid to seek and gain knowledge. No other profession on earth gives more scope and space to feed our inner hunger for knowledge. This is, in fact, one of the few professions in life where random thoughts and haphazard voyages of our forebrain can be polished and sharpened to any level of sensible information. And the best of all, we get returns in the form of remuneration, accolades and potential betterment of mankind for our commitment. Albert Einstein believed that if he had a full time real job instead of his boring and monotonous job in a patent office, he would have never had adequate time to think and explore and he wouldn't even have thought of the Theory of Relativity. We are all bestowed with a rare opportunity of endlessly seeking knowledge which many can only dream about. So buckle up and make the most out of our time, energy and efforts. 

The allowance of failure

As we walk into an Emergency Room of any hospital, how many times have we sincerely wished not to fall a prey in the hands of a training intern? How many times have we told a handyman not to learn how to fix something by tinkering on our expensive electronic device? How many times have we called an after sales maintenance team asking them to send in an expert and not a trainee to fix our appliances? The gist is, no profession allows us the room to fail. A failure is always regarded an equivalent of inefficiency in all strata of professional ladder. Scientific research is, in fact, the only stream on this planet where failures are counted as alternate strategies to success. No experiment is useless, irrespective of the end result. The peculiarity of scientific research is that even a negative finding, absence of a finding or the failure of a technique by itself is an achievement. It brings us closer to the right path and our failures are in a way justified as learning curve. Isn't it a wonderful opportunity for each of us to have the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them?

Gain a foothold 

There is a stark contrast between passion and profession. Passion, if not of monetary gain, becomes a burden in the long run whereas profession, if not exciting enough, eventually becomes monotony. There's no denying that how much ever passionate we are in our profession, unless it consistently helps us win bread for our family and secures our social existence, the quality of our work gets compromised. For all the above mentioned good reasons, if research becomes our passion, that is the best reason to make it our profession. A respectable scientific person gets peer acceptance, financial security and social esteem which only a few other professions provide. Isn't that, indeed, the most selfish yet pleasant reason to love our research?

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