Being a Research Assistant is Much More than JUST Research...

Whenever people ask me what I do, I always tell them I assist the professor in her research. Which is true, in many ways.

But I gotta say that I didn't quite appreciate that I would be using a lot more than just research skills when I took on this job (yep, naive!).

These past two years, I have done everything from playing counsellor (do you know how much heartache there is in academia?) to building bookshelves and sewing puppet clothes. 

Yes, that is me sewing puppet clothes...

And here all the puppets are now dressed!

It's quite funny in some ways, because when applying for research jobs, we go out of our way to show how skilled we are in doing all things research-related: understanding study-design, subject recruitment, data collection, statistic skills, data analysis, report-writing. And then, of course, there are the study- and research-specific skills, like MATLAB programming, experience with fMRI, qualitative coding, and the like. 

But we often forget that a big part of getting research done sometimes relies on softer skills, like talking to parents of young children to bring them to the lab, the ability to get a 3-year-old to cooperate with you and sit through the entire task, being able to problem-solve (they don't sell puppet clothes that fit your need? ok, so sew them!), and sometimes just getting down and dirty with whatever needs to be done.

So, yes, I assist the professor in her work. Sometimes that means ploughing through stacks of publications to find the information she wants, and sometimes, it means picking up a hammer and putting together bookcases for our lab's overflowing supply of books.

Therapeutic? You bet. 



Bitta said…
Hi Daphne, Merry Christmas to you and Happy New year 2014.