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Life of a STEM researcher

  • 26-05-2020 2:37pm
    Registered Users Posts: 410 ✭✭

    Following on from a thread on AH 'Are you happy about how your career is progressing', I am keen to hear about all of you, and how you are finding life as researchers. Not as research into prospective routes for my own path per se, but I do enjoy hearing about other people's jobs anyway. Do you spend much time in the lab? Do you deal much with communication/presentations/grants? Are you a solitary bee in the lab, or a proverbial social butterfly?

    Just for myself, I'm mid-way through a PhD programme, I like the balance of lab work to teaching/communicating (4 days lab, 1 day presentations/lab duties).

    Very keen to hear from you all!


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭Black Swan

    My faculty position is half-time research and half-time teaching. We are a "publish or perish" university, so grants, research, and publications in peer-reviewed journals are mandatory for tenure and promotion. Research-based presentations at scholarly conferences checks-the-box on annual performance reviews, but cannot substitute for a track record of grants and pubs. Just like being a PI for your grant and research team checks another box. Sadly, average or above teaching checks another box at research-driven flagship universities. I enjoy both research and teaching, and often incorporate what I am currently researching into classroom curriculum. I am third generation faculty brat, so I really know little outside the Ivory Tower.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,930 ✭✭✭✭challengemaster


    Would not recommend

  • Registered Users Posts: 410 ✭✭AlphabetCards

    Yes, this is the overwhelming experience all right. When did it all go wrong?

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Music Moderators, Regional East Moderators, Regional Midlands Moderators, Regional Midwest Moderators, Regional Abroad Moderators, Regional North Mods, Regional West Moderators, Regional South East Moderators, Regional North East Moderators, Regional North West Moderators, Regional South Moderators Posts: 8,027 CMod ✭✭✭✭Gaspode

    I'm not sure it was ever right! Life as a researcher has always been challenging and filled with conflicting duties and requirements. IMHO of course!
    I'm sure there are the lucky few somewhere for whom funding is not an issue and teaching duties dont exist.

  • Registered Users Posts: 410 ✭✭AlphabetCards

    Is it the actual teaching of lessons, or lecturing that is the problem, or the amount of time that lesson prep, exam setting, exam correction and curriculum changing that bothers people? Personally I'd be all for lecturing.

    I'm tempted to try see if my uni would let take me on as some sort of tech/researcher with undergrad lab duties. That'd be my ideal job tbh. Some sort of 2/2/1 split in time for teching/instrumentation, working in my research group and undergrad labs would be so cool, particularly as I spend a lot of nights and weekends in the labs on research anyway...

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  • Registered Users Posts: 405 ✭✭bduffy

    My experience has been good, working in a full time research role for 15 yrs. I had been teaching for 2 yrs full time and 4 years part time before that. To be honest the FT teaching didn't allow for any research and I gave it up for a research post without agreeing a salary. I went into industrial research and worked on a range of topics with plenty of different research teams and companies. It does mean being a Jack of all Trades, but most days are different.
    I did teach a single module for 8 years PT and enjoyed it, but the thoughts of going back to 22hr weeks doesn't appeal to me. Teaching PhD students is very different as it's very much a mentor role with (hopefully) little spoon feeding.
    I now spend a lot of time on administration, but that's the path we choose...... and proposal writing gives you a great opportunity to build good networks.