• Question: what is the biggest barrier you have had to overcome in your research in order to get where you are today?

    Asked by izzylodge to Andreas, Arianna, Daniel, Gergely, Imogen, Joel, Kanta, Mario, Martin, Mary-Kay, Nayeli, Ophélie, Patrick, Pawan, Priyanka, Raquel, Rohan, Sabina, Sami, Sam, Sarah, Tom on 22 Sep 2017.
    • Photo: Imogen Goold

      Imogen Goold answered on 22 Sep 2017:


      I once worked on a project about why MPs had made the law on IVF and embryo research the way it was. I had to work really hard to get MPs to talk to me. Some were great – I got to have afternoon tea in the House of Lords a lot – but some really resisted talking to me.

    • Photo: Daniel Brown

      Daniel Brown answered on 22 Sep 2017:


      Regulatory and ethical approval! Clinical studies of medical software come with a vast number of challenges. Fortunately we have the expertise of clinicians and commercial partners to help us with this process.

    • Photo: Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez

      Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez answered on 22 Sep 2017:


      Recruitment, trying to convince people to take part in science is hard work and can be very frustrating sometimes.

      P.S. and admin of course!

    • Photo: Joel Butler

      Joel Butler answered on 22 Sep 2017:


      Learning to read the languages involved and the handwriting they’re written in! Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, Early Modern English (not so difficult, except for the handwriting of course!), Early Modern French… and there’s still so many more useful ones I could learn – Latin, Italian, Spanish, Greek, German, Persian, Arabic… Unfortunately, nobody ever has the time or the talent to master all of that while being a Historian at the same time. But this is where having lots of different researchers working on different things is useful. If someone who can read Italian and Latin has written something related to what you’re looking at (or better, translated their sources!), you can rely on their books or articles to fill in the gaps in your own knowledge, and vice versa if, say, I know Turkish and they don’t.

    • Photo: Sarah Finnegan

      Sarah Finnegan answered on 22 Sep 2017:


      At the end of my first year of my PhD I was analysing the data from my first experiment and found absolutely nothing! I was so disappointed and was ready to give up on the whole thing. My supervisors encouraged me to go back to basics, look at the techniques I was using and see if we could improve them. We spent nearly a year working on making the technique the best it could be, but in the end when we tested our technique again we found what we were looking for! Finding it was made all the more sweeter because of how hard I had to work to get there!

    • Photo: Kanta Dihal

      Kanta Dihal answered on 22 Sep 2017:


      Great question! The way universities work have been a barrier for me sometimes. People work in separate ‘faculties’ or ‘departments’, with the sciences separated from the humanities. But I work on science communication, which uses knowledge from the humanities but is of course about science. Finding the right people to talk to, even getting into buildings, all that was much more difficult sometimes than it should have been!
      At Oxford I’m quite lucky: we have ‘colleges’ where researchers from all kinds of backgrounds come together. That’s how I met a lot of physicists I wouldn’t have met normally just because I’m in the English faculty.

    • Photo: Sam Parsons

      Sam Parsons answered on 23 Sep 2017:


      Great question. for me it is time management most definitely. Because you don’t have specific deadlines most of the time, like you would for coursework or exams, there is a lot of flexibility in how you manage time. This is one of the best things in academia, but it also requires a lot of management to make sure that you dont get too caught up in a side project that will have little return. I’ve found that setting my own deadlines is the best way to do things. Especially as I am always excited to take on new projects, having these deadlines to finish existing ones makes me more able to actually finish things.

    • Photo: Pawan Kumar

      Pawan Kumar answered on 23 Sep 2017:


      Mostly it is about securing funds for my research

    • Photo: Martin Pickup

      Martin Pickup answered on 25 Sep 2017:


      I think the biggest barrier has been some of the more technical aspects of the work I do. I need to know about logic, semantics and physics, and I had to learn these as I went. That wasn’t easy, and felt a bit like being back at school! But sometimes you need to know this stuff to be able to do the parts I find easier, like using my imagination and solving problems.

    • Photo: Sabina Fiolna

      Sabina Fiolna answered on 25 Sep 2017:


      I think that for me the biggest barrier was to convince my parents that I really want to become a full-time researcher. What else could scary me after I confronted with my own parents? 😀

    • Photo: Mario Collura

      Mario Collura answered on 26 Sep 2017:


      When you do research, hopefully you will be free (a part from advices from more experinced people working with you), therefore, the most struggling things to deal with are: new ideas, time and fundings.

    • Photo: Raquel Pinacho

      Raquel Pinacho answered on 26 Sep 2017:


      Funding is the big struggle. When you get it, it is usually for 2-3 years which sometimes is not enough to run a full project in time to have results for applying to the next funding!

    • Photo: Priyanka Dhopade

      Priyanka Dhopade answered on 27 Sep 2017:


      The biggest barrier is probably my self-doubt. Even when I know the right answer, I hesitate to speak up, probably because I work with a lot of very smart people.
      Believing in yourself is the simplest thing to say, but one of the hardest things to achieve.

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