I love my research. Don’t get me wrong! But as I noticed over the last 5 or 6 years, the topic of absorption poses quite a few research challenges. Now, I love challenges as well, so that is not really a problem. What I think can be a problem in research (not just on absorption) and academia at large is that we tend to focus on the results, the positive, hypothesis-confirming results of our research. Often at the expense of the interesting insights we gained by all of those ‘failed’ experiments or hypothesis-rejecting results.
One of the things I learned the hard way during my PhD is that as a researcher it is your job to communicate your ideas and results in the most effective way and this means not relaying your entire process. I often have the tendency to start at the very beginning and explain what I did, why I did it, what went wrong, and how I then corrected my mistake, and then, and then, and then… I don’t really know where this tendency comes from, but I agree whole-heartedly with my supervisors’ advice to suppress it. It is simply not an efficient way to disseminate your research. However, I do think that from time to time, we need to think about AND communicate our thinking process and the mistakes we made a long the way.
On wednesday the 17th of June I will give a lecture at the Courant Research Centre at Göttingen University entitled “Measuring the feeling of ‘being there’. The challenges that come with researching absorption experiences”. In it I will reflect on some of the things I would have done differently looking back on my PhD project and the things I am going to pick up on in my current research project, not because of the hypotheses that I was able to confirm throughout the PhD, but rather because of the mistakes I made. I think it is good to share that part of the research process as well, since you can warn other researchers not to make the same mistakes and simply because I think I learned most from my ‘failed experiments’ than from any other experiment and I want to pass that knowledge on.
More details about the contents of my presentation after the 17th: after all, I wouldn’t want to spoil the story!