Having collected all this data, I was compelled to enter it all into a spreadsheet because, well … that’s what we do, isn’t it?
Having subjected said data to an extremely loose form of analysis that is probably unreliable, very likely not valid, almost certainly unrepeatable, and all conducted on an unrepresentative sample; I present the following.
What’s good about being a researcher?
The best things are flexibility and travel. Nearly everyone loves being able to choose what they work on and when. Getting to travel and visit different places around the world is pretty great also. Another plus is the fact that we have a job that enables us to do something good to for others. They are the most attractive parts of the job, and the good news is that they remain great for as long as you hang around in research.
Early on in the game, people like improving skills and having access to new opportunities and challenges. For the folks that have been around for bit longer, meeting new and interesting people and working with students are most to like.
What’s not so good?
The bad news is that worry about money never really goes away, it seems to morph a little from concern about having a job at all, to concern about having money to do the sort of research you want to do. There is some good news though for those ECRs finding it difficult to cope with rejection, and trying to work out how to explain what you do for a living; you’ll probably get over the former and come up with a good story for the latter! Something to be ready for though is the stress associated with trying to do lots of things at once. Being pulled in many different directions is a fact of life for researchers, which makes time management struggles and coping with long hours a downside of the job.
So there it is; a snapshot of the highs and lows of a research career. Hope you enjoyed it, and big thank you to all those that provided their time and insight to contribute.