• Question: What is a bad day being a scientist like? What kind of day does it take to make you regret being a scientist?

    Asked by Brooke to Alex, Ana, Clay, Keegan, Mark on 3 May 2016.
    • Photo: Clay Robinson

      Clay Robinson answered on 3 May 2016:

      I have never regretted becoming a scientist.
      Sometimes I have regretted where I worked.
      But we make decisions every day, and we live with the consequences of those decisions. Sometimes my bad days were caused by my own poor choices, such as when I was sarcastic or rude to a coworker or supervisor.
      My worst days are when the equipment does not work, especially high-tech, analytical laboratory equipment.

    • Photo: Alexander Taylor

      Alexander Taylor answered on 3 May 2016:

      Getting a grant application or paper submission rejected is up there. It’s also not much fun to spend hours setting up and conducting an experiment only to find that it failed, or run experiments for months only to find that the data you collected wasn’t significant. Grading a test you gave your students and finding that very few understood an idea that you thought you had explained well.

      Being a research scientist certainly has some disappointments, especially since many of the projects take months to conduct and the outcome is always uncertain. However, every job or career has bad days and setbacks along with it, and a bad day for a scientist certainly isn’t as bad as a bad day for a firefighter or a doctor. The most important thing is that you learn from your mistakes, and choose a career that fits your personality!

    • Photo: Mark Ritchie

      Mark Ritchie answered on 3 May 2016:

      My worst days as a scientist are when I get uncomplimentary reviews back on my research articles. It’s hard to hear criticism, most the time criticism can be turned into great improvements in your work, but occasionally other scientists just disagree that what you are trying to publish is accurate or worthwhile. It takes a strong self-confidence to turn criticism into corrections and make you work stronger, better, or easier to understand.
      Despite these difficulties, I have not for one millisecond ever regretted being a scientist.