• Question: Is there any thing you hate about science or your profession ?

    Asked by potatochild on 7 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Lorena Boquete Vilarino

      Lorena Boquete Vilarino answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      I wouldn’t say hate, but there is something I am not a big fan of – how the publishing world works!
      Scientists need to make their work available to other scientists, which makes sense – this way we share our results and other people can see what has already been done before. However, to do this we have to publish our results in some specific journals – like newspapers but for science results. To get funding for our research we need to publish in important journals. However, these journals usually publish big results only, which means you need to have lots of experiments done, and for that you normally need quite a lot of money… It’s a never-ending cycle. Also, if your experiments fail or the results are not big enough it is very difficult to get them published. This makes it difficult for small labs to get the money they need to grow bigger.

    • Photo: Alex Blenkinsop

      Alex Blenkinsop answered on 7 Jun 2019: last edited 7 Jun 2019 9:34 am


      One thing that often frustrates me is how science is communicated with the public. Sometimes newspapers will take research and create sensational headlines which misrepresent the actual science behind it. Some really useful resources have been developed to combat this and educate young people into being critical about what they read online/in the media.
      This is a great example: http://askforevidence.org/articles/evidence-hunter-activity-pack
      Or check out: https://www.theguardian.com/science/series/badscience

    • Photo: Ettie Unwin

      Ettie Unwin answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      I totally agree with Lorena on this one – currently how scientists have to publish to be able to continue doing their work. It puts a lot of pressure on getting that one big result and sometimes means the science suffers. The work is also peer reviewed so other scientists read it and comment on it before it is made public. I think that’s a good idea but it means as a scientist you have to spend lots of time reading other peoples work and sometimes people aren’t very helpful or they aren’t kind about your work if it is too close to what they are doing.

    • Photo: Shobhana Nagraj

      Shobhana Nagraj answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      Great question! I think sometimes in science (not always!), scientists can become limited in their way of thinking and opinions, and be dismissive of other ways of approaching a scientific problem. I think real innovation in science and finding new ways of looking at a problem, can come from working with, and learning from others – especially those working in fields outside of our areas, like in the arts, media and technology. As Lorena mentions, sometimes because of how the publishing and funding of research happens, it can make scientists competitive rather than working together in teams with people from different disciplines to solve a problem and sharing credit. I think this is changing now though, and inter-disciplinary research is being encouraged more.
      As a doctor, sometimes the shift work and working nights in particular can be tough – especially if you like your sleep!

    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      Sometimes there is a little too much ‘politics’ involved, and not all science is transparent enough to know whether it was conducted in the right way. We are moving to much a more ‘open’ way of doing science which is fundamentally important if we are going to reduce waste in research and ensure the best science is funded. There are sadly a few rogue scientists in the world who twist or fabricate their results for academic gain – they usually get found out but that’s often long after good funds have been spent on useless research, and other peoples’ research or careers have been negatively affected. Thankfully this is very rare and the scrutiny levels are being tightened up to safeguard research integrity in the future.

      From a clinician’s point of view, I get very frustrated when dealing with health problems in dogs the have been entirely man-made i.e. because of extreme breeding strategies – this is a major welfare concern and is entirely preventable.

      The things I find challenging about may job represent opportunities for change and improvement so it’s not so much a matter of ‘hate’ but asking myself – what can I do to make things better?

    • Photo: Kate Timms

      Kate Timms answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      I think the worst thing about science is how quickly we’re expected to do it nowadays. When you apply for money for research, you usually get around 3 years to do a lot of work and are expected to make major breakthroughs in that time. This is pretty unrealistic in my opinion. I think if we had more time to do things more thoroughly and explore all possibilities then science would be much better off.
      At the moment, if feels like science is a constant sprint. And when you’re sprinting, you can miss a lot of things!

    • Photo: Rebecca Moon

      Rebecca Moon answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      I think hate is a pretty strong word. There is definitely aspects that are more stressful that others, like the continual need to find and secure funding to carry on your research.
      Being a doctor, the shift work isn’t always ideal either although sometimes I enjoy the night shifts more as I can get on with looking after unwell patients rather than doing all the admin that comes with being a doctor.

    • Photo: Marianne King

      Marianne King answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      The further along I go in my science education the more you realise how political it can be. There are a lot of people who get put on papers who maybe didn’t do any work, just to please their friends. There’s also a lot of poor behaviour that I’ve seen displayed by people very high up, but you’re made to feel you can’t challenge it because they have the power to make your life completely miserable! It’s unfortunately a very competitive field sometimes and that can bring out the worst in some people.

    • Photo: Anabel Martinez Lyons

      Anabel Martinez Lyons answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      Great question – as seems to be the trend in the other answers, the pressure to complete experiments quickly in order to write up and share the work in published articles in high-ranking journals is pretty intense and ever-present. I can feel that pressure all the time and it is something that could definitely be changed in future if funding were more reliable and accessible (especially to young career researchers).

    • Photo: Kaitlin Wade

      Kaitlin Wade answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      The only thing I don’t particularly like is the uncertainty. Being a researcher is FASCINATING but you have to be funded (given money) to do the interesting work. The uncertainty comes from who and what company is going to give you money. At the moment, I’m on an 18 months contract (I have a year left) but I’m trying to apply for other pots of money that could give me between 3-6 years worth of funding, which would be great! However, at the end of that 3-6 years, I’d have to find another pot of money to fund me for the next couple of years. Which is quite stressful and difficult to work around your non-work life.

    • Photo: Thiloka Ratnaike

      Thiloka Ratnaike answered on 9 Jun 2019:


      I don’t hate anything about my profession as such, I actually don’t feel hate towards much in general! However, there are frustrating aspects of my job as a doctor and as a researcher- there is a lot of administrative work which takes up a lot of time but doesn’t seem to count for much. I really dislike wasting time so things like that can be quite annoying.
      The worst part of my clinical job is definitely having a sick patient who is deteriorating despite our best attempts and is likely to die or have life long problems. These are really tough moments, and can be quite difficult to overcome, but this is what builds us up to face the next situation in order to try to do better in some way. Also, the relationships you make with the parents of the patient or with the staff involved in the same incident, are extremely strong usually!

    • Photo: Matthew Bareford

      Matthew Bareford answered on 11 Jun 2019:


      If I’m completely honest, I personally wouldn’t use the word hate, but there are things that I don’t like very much such as:

      1- the issues over publications, not only journals but who gets to be named on scientific papers. Technicians do not in a lot of cases, despite (quite often) having completed a lot of laboratory work for the study to obtain the data which is then used to publish.

      2- the admin side of things, don’t get me wrong, its definitely needed, but I much prefer to be doing the experiments and lab work rather than writing up methods and procedures for it all.

      3- sometimes in research you are waiting for other scientists and researchers to finish their part so you can do yours, which can be frustrating if they all finish their parts at the same time as you are then super busy!

    • Photo: David Wilson

      David Wilson answered on 11 Jun 2019:


      Science involves a lot of criticism. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We talk to our colleagues about how to make their work better, maybe suggest an experiment or how to present a diagram to make it easier to understand. We give advice to each other about how to write about science more clearly. When we try and publish our science or apply for grants to pay for science we have to have our work reviewed. This means that other scientists anonymously comment on the the good things and bad things about our work and what we want to do in future. This can feel very personal.
      The thing I don’t like about science is that sometimes other humans don’t deliver this constructive criticism in a helpful way and it can be be damaging to your mental health if you feel like your always having your flaws pointed out. This isn’t just an issue with science, people should try to be nicer to each other.

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