Questioning your research

Today one of the senior grad students in my lab asked me if, when I was a grad student, I ever felt like my research was crap and questioned if the hours, weeks, years of effort put into the research was really worth it.
Obviously she doesn't read any blogs.
My answer was a resounding yes. Having not yet published my dissertation, I'm still half convinced that it isn't good enough! Anyway, I tried to reassure her that pretty much all grad students question their decisions and research at one time or another. Even the confident, brilliant, successful ones (I'm lucky to count some of them as my friends). At this point, another grad student, a 2nd year who is just starting to figure out his research plan, skeptically asked, 'Everybody? So you think I will too?'
Seriously, does no one read blogs?
My answer was, again, a resounding yes and that it would probably be when he and his fiance want to start a family but he has 2 field seasons left that will require long trips and long hours in the lab with no weekends off. The look on his face told me I nailed it.

Having dealt with impostor syndrome, questioning my research and thinking it is crap is pretty second nature to me. I want to know what these students are doing to get through grad school without second guessing themselves!


Sneks said...

I often think that if you aren't questioning your work and yourself, perhaps you should not be in grad school!

Karina said...

I've found myself wondering several times this week how in the world fellow classmates of mine haven't found my blog yet (or apparently any blogs). How do they cope?

Neuropharma said...

ohhhhhhh yes. I do question my research a lot. The funny thing is that the deeper I go into the project, the more I doubt my results. I keep asking myself, what if all these results are due to some error somewhere? Is my technique really reliable? Will I ever get any of this published? And if so, is my work interesting to other people in the field that they will actually read it?

I know my work is interesting, at least to me. But sometimes I do feel it's all crap, maybe when things don't go well. I think this is the way science is. No-one is 100% certain about anything, but we keep on trying and experimenting!