I recently read this post http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/how-do-you-mentor-junior-faculty/ which has TONS of great tips, but the one that most strikes a cord with me at this time is the idea of setting up a research accountability group. I encountered the idea in the past when I was working on my dissertation and loved it then (although didn’t make a writing group happen) and I would love to implement it now. I don’t really know if that can happen, but I would like to implement a pseudo accountability group via the internet. I am going to try to post every week what my research goals and progress on said goals. I have other goals like drinking water every day and exercise. The exercise seems unattainable at the moment (I don’t really even know where to start), but I could try the water again.
So to get started, I’ll catch you up on the backstory of my lab. Essentially there are 2 major projects ongoing in my lab. The first one I started my first year on the tenure track and am just now (3 years later) writing that story up for publication. Basically a year into using this technique, I realized it was not ideal, but didn’t want to throw away all the data and start from scratch. I’m hoping we can publish this manuscript with minimal revisions (and certainly no new experiments) and close this chapter. The other project has promise (after going through many iterations, I think we are now in a good place with the model) BUT we are having technical difficulties. Because of the nature of the model we are using, we need to measure the levels of a certain molecule in EVERY animal we analyze so that our conclusions can be categorized appropriately (i.e. low levels of the molecule, moderate levels of the molecule, high levels of the molecule). Because most of our animals fall on the low levels side, we are having a dickens of a time getting measurements of the molecule. This is problem #1. Ignoring that issue, we need to figure out what the effects of this molecule are on the system we study. At this time, I have no idea. I have some inklings from an earlier iteration of this project, but they have not yet been validated in our current model. My hope is that I can figure out some reproducible effects in time for my summer research students that are starting on June 2. So essentially, my goals for this week are to 1) try yet another method to measure the molecule and 2) get one on one with our tissue to come up with a plan (see how many animals we have in each group, what processing needs to happen to analyze tissue, and comparing tissue between our 2 groups–experimental vs. control). Looking forward to giving you a good report next week!
How about you, have you ever been part of any kind of scholarship accountability group? Any tips to share? Let us know in the comments!