Scientists practice the integrity of research in the first semester of the university as much as towards the end of the career. Despite all the regulatory efforts, we end up deciding for ourselves how much we want to follow the rules, balancing reward and punishment. This became very clear to me as an overachieving postdoc in the adjacent lab at my alma mater lost her career overnight for falsifying data. And in our time when ignorance and scientific fraud strive to finish off our planet, it is imperative to cultivate research integrity.
Taking your mind off is something everyone should do, no matter which kind of job, routine, daily life or duties we have to deal with. Of course, the better your life is, the higher are the chances to find some free time and energy to invest in such “out-of-the-ordinary” activities. I mean, working 10 hours per day, doing an arduous work, with hungry children at home waiting for you to come back with some food in your hands, leave a little room for entertainment. But, although every PhD student I have ever met, use to complain a lot (myself included), we have to be honest and face the hard reality: is not the worst job we could have chosen! I know it is hard to admit, but there are plenty of other jobs where people is under a lot of stress, both physically and mentally. And, even though doing research puts you under a lot of stress due to several reasons, it cannot be comparable with many other harsher professions. So, if one has the privilege to take some time and include in the weekly agenda a whatsoever recreational activity, well, he/she should remember how lucky he/she is and do it! It is a strong advice!
As I am about to finish my PhD – or more accurately, my PhD grant is about to expire – I find myself thinking a lot about the future. I have been in a long-distance relationship for almost 3 years now, which is quite common in international research. My life is established in Bristol, and I have enjoyed job security for two and a half years now.
Like in a movie, conducting a European PhD also comes with some funny “behind the scenes shots” that I will never forget! As the TreatRec project is a European Training Network, it has partners in different countries. For us, moving from one country to another to perform secondments or attend conferences/courses involves many changes. We have to adapt to different languages, food, etc. Even to the use of different currency. Sometimes the adjustment to the new environment comes with comic situations.