What pollen people do?

Scientists definitely are multi-talented people. While we’re required to practice critical thinking on both our own and colleagues works, we also have to master many other skills. Apart from the acquisition of data, we need to properly store a numerical version of them, eventually to compute statistics on them. We need knowledge of graphical processing software to represent our results nicely, and write valuable scientific papers out of them. We sometime teach to students, that requires synthesis, pedagogic, and oral capabilities. We have to deal with paper work, which sadly tends to increase. We need to write applications for positions and/or for grants (and, ironically, so that we can do our job – are you going to the office and think “let’s first find the money to do my job”? – ). The list is endless, and there is no doubt I forgot important examples. Icing on the cake, we’re in an arena of competition, struggling for visibility and high impact factor (I should write about this guy, one day).

Since I started to work, I recorded my working tasks in my calendar app. I use it to both keep track and schedule my work. It’s also been of valuable help sometimes, like “did I really analyse this sample on January 1st or is it a kind of Millenium bug?”. Worth to mention also, I have a terrible memory. Just like the Camino system does not exist if it’s not recorded in the Jedi’s archive, to me, an event that is not in my calendar has virtually never happened.

Based on this record, I compiled a summary of what I’ve been doing one year from now. And here it is.

With more than 720 hours spent at the microscope, analysing pollen sample (Counting) is what I’ve done the most in the last twelve months, accounting for 49% of my time. This is not surprising: palynology is a long-term discipline that require patience and perseverance to acquire good data. I spent almost 12% of my working time in writing applications for positions and fundings, followed by writing reports and articles (10%).

But my dataset is a bit biased. For instance, I tend not to record exactly the few minutes I spend reading and answering the emails every now and then. Also, my teaching activities are recorded in another calendar, which I didn’t think to include here. The teaching record displayed here is probably a remnant from the time I didn’t have a dedicated calendar for this activity. And, I also excluded from the dataset many little events such specific appointments with colleagues, students.

So remember, be nice with palynologists, they work very hard to deliver you beautiful data!

Posted by Benjamin

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