Researcher for a week

Since arriving at university for my MRes I have had some great experiences already. Despite only beginning my masters a week ago I feel I am already more aware of how being a researcher can become a career, and what is expected of a post grad.

At the introductory seminar I attended me and the few other MRes students were told that whilst we are masters students there is a indeed the potential that we may become PhD student. By completing superb research, and having a good project there is the opportunity to transfer straight into our PhD and count the masters as the first year of the PhD.

Now that being said, it makes the experience make a lot more sense so far. Whilst I have had a couple of short meetings with one of my supervisors and some hints on the direction to take the research; this is the first time I have ever had to actually go out and learn completely independently. The first couple of days were somewhere between confusing and daunting. Waking up with no specific place to be, no specific papers to read and no seminars to attend. It took a couple of days for me to really find my footing of self learning. I am now busier than I have ever been with studying. I have started to read the background information of my topic, which means sifting through countless papers and journals, having to contact authors for permissions to make sure I have all the information I need to form my own study.

I now feel after reading so many of the studies out there that I can finally form my own research questions and defend them from scrutiny. It feels now like I am a real researcher.

With my hypothesis taking shape and being able to start to thing about my methodology in more detail is giving me the opportunity to network with researchers across many fields. Every lunch-break is now an opportunity to bounce ideas around, not just on my topic, but people ask for my opinion on their own research topics.  I do keep feeling that they have the wrong person, that I am not worthy of such a great opportunity. But I don’t have the time to have such worries.

It is easy to see now, how people get sucked into working in academia. Once I complete my MRes, I would be very tempting to keep going onto a PhD. Once I complete my PhD. Well, who knows where I will be by then. But for now, I will just be happy in the idea that after all these years of dreaming of working with wild primates, I am the closest I have ever been to that dream right now.

So all the stress must be worth it.

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