What is research but a blind date with knowledge?

title quote: William Henry (1775-1836), British chemist.

It’s been a while. I took a few days off blogging over the holidays and found it very hard to get back into it. Usually everything I see or read or do I try to find ways to blog about it and I have queues of ideas in my head. Blogging is obviously like running a long distance, once you stop it’s very hard to get going again!

So this post is like a warm-up jog, getting me moving and ready for the off. The last couple of weeks, despite the majority of people relaxing over Royal Weddings and Bank Holidays, I’ve been busy writing for my annual meeting. In ENV we’re required to submit a report for our annual meeting, plus a ‘significant piece of writing’ – basically something relatively long and cohesive to show we’re occasionally putting pen to paper and not wasting three years playing Spider Solitaire every time we’re in the office. So I wrote my methodology chapter, and although at first I found it a bit worrying how much time it took away from the lab I’m very glad it’s done. That’s 6000 words of my thesis and a good few diagrams and tables done and dusted! Surprisingly enough the writing doesn’t worry me, I quite look forwards to sitting down and spending time organising a huge document of my thoughts and ideas; how often in life do you get to do that?

I’ve also been loving the weather, we’ve been busy gardening and that’s another reason for the lack of blog posts; we’re not blessed with summer for long in this country and I felt I need to make the most of every moment.

Today was my annual meeting and so a sort of tipping point, I spent the morning putting some final touches to data analysis and the afternoon getting back into lab life. At a time when I’ve still got LOTS of lab work to do it can be quite frustrating to spend time in the office doing data analysis, but an enforced pause to look through what I’ve already done is definitely a good idea once in a while. After all, how do you learn from past experiments (and mistakes!) if you don’t study them? I read the above quote today and thought it quite summed up the past couple of months in the lab. Experiments are like heady first dates, you never know how they’ll work out. After a first date you ring your friends and discuss every detail – what went well, what could have gone better, what shoes you’ll wear on the second date…Post-experiment data analysis with your supervisors is a similar thing…just without the discussion of shoes!

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