Working hard is hard work


Drudgery can be fatal in academia and it’s time we started talking about it.

I haven’t updated my blog in quite a while now, because I haven’t had anything “interesting” to report.

I realised today this is a flaw.

It is coming to light of late, that research is heavily biased by sexy science; dictating the communication, prevalence, funding, and ultimately, direction of all research. Much of the research that could be vital to the well-being of humans and our planet involves “boring” and “uncharismatic” species, and/or old, large, and complex datasets.

It takes a special brand of enthusiasm to persevere under such conditions. So it is no wonder that mental health is such a big issue in academia. Impostor syndrome is approaching a cliché, but it is far from a joke. As pragmatic and resolute as I am, I find myself falling victim to feeling inadequate because I’m not churning out some undefined measure of progress on my project.


I externalise with my notes in Genstat…


But over the last weeks I’ve been working really hard! Working through data and the vagaries of statistical packages; endlessly corresponding over admin and arrangements; designing and checking the fieldwork program; back checking and keeping up with literature…. See, it doesn’t make fascinating reading; but I’m in the privileged position of having some measure of self-confidence, and the support of a great team of colleagues and friends.

 Suppose I was beavering away in a less salubrious environment, I might give up altogether! So I think we need to talk about our drudgery. Remind each other that there is a mountain of it for each success, and we are all going to feel like we’re tunnelling at some points. It doesn’t mean we’re not doing it right.

 By the way, my project’s going great 😉


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