Someone suggested that I write a blog on why I love research. You know “10 reasons to love science”. I found this interesting You Tube video and would recommend you take five minutes to watch it for fabulous visuals.
My reasons for loving research may be less exciting and I doubt I will get the 7 million plus views. Regardless, here are my 10 reasons for loving research:
- Research makes a difference. Nothing can be as rewarding as the satisfaction of knowing that something you discovered or developed is making a difference in people’s lives. One of my great joys is seeing the reports on specific children who have benefitted from our Strongest Families
- Research is challenging. Nature does not give up its secrets easily. Whether it is a basic biomedical secret about the action of a specific messenger in the brain or the best way to help a parent deal with a temper tantrum, the secret is often harder to discover and hard to prove.
- Research is competitive. I always tell my students that no one cares if you are the best researcher in a specific discipline in Nova Scotia. It only matters if you are among the best in Canada, or in the world. Getting a grant is competitive. The success rate in national competitions is now around 18% but sometimes much lower. It is hard when you don’t succeed, but great when you win by getting a grant, publishing a paper or spinning off a company.
- Research is fun. Science is a lot of work but when the work is complete, you have deserved some fun. Some people might think that researchers are boring nerds. Well some of us may be nerds, but we are certainly not boring. In fact, artistic and musical abilities seem to be more prevalent among scientists than in the general population. I have none of these artistic abilities but I do like to have a good time.
- Research stretches your mind. I often have the chance to chat with incredibly intelligent trainees and young scientists. It challenges me to understand what they are doing. Research is moving so fast that you have to work at it to keep up in your own area. It is only possible to get snapshots of what is happening outside your research area.
- Research introduces you to such interesting people. I have made friends around the world because of my research. Right now, I have projects underway in Finland and Spain, and collaborators and research-friends in many different countries. Sometimes we are able to connect at research conferences but I don’t get to see them very often.
- Research is the future. It is exciting to be part of an adventure that will change what happens next year or in 10 or 15 years’ time. I can see where research that I conducted 10 years ago has contributed to better care now. The study I design today may determine how healthcare is provided in the next few years.
- Research involves collaboration across disciplines. As a psychologist, I love working with and learning about new ways of doing things from my colleagues who are working in nursing, medicine and basic science. These interprofessional opportunities make the research experience richer and the outcomes much more valuable.
- Partnering with non-researchers is enlightening. While the image of a research scientist working alone in their lab may have been common 100 years ago, these days researchers work across sectors, often with community agencies, patients and government representatives. I love working with my research partners as I learn a lot from them and am able to share my ideas with those outside of my field.
- Research is highly regarded. Being a scientist is prestigious. It is easier to enjoy your job if it is thought highly of by others. I am vain enough to be at least a bit influenced by the positive regard of others about my profession.
It would be great to hear from you about why you love research.
~Dr. Patrick McGrath