Confessions of a Scientist

Hope you are ready for a myth shattering expose about one thing…science (and scientific research) is HARD.


Okay, maybe not that shocking. But very true.


It’s been a stressful couple weeks for me, as I have frantically worked to pull together a field season, learn how to use a variety of sound and electronic equipment I’ve never seen before, acquring said equipment and travel logistics.

I completely overhauled the playback portion of my methods. Luckily, the change should make things easier and not harder.

And I’ve had more than a few humbling moments. I have never claimed that I know everything about research or about bats, but I’ve learned a few things the hard way:

  • Setting up a bat detector -> must be high enough, must be far enough away from other objects, the recording settings need to be correct and double checked (only took me 3, 6 hour roundtrips to figure these things out). Nothing like trial and error to force you to finally do something correctly.
  • Those long car trips to a far away field site (see above bullet point)…no longer being used. My original methods included recordings from this particular site to compare between roosts of a the same species. After some discusion with my advisor, we decided that it was better to focus on just three playback treatments.
  • I still don’t know how to use a bat detector. Talk about lack of experience causing unnecessary stress. After several days of messing with audio files, electronics, and software AND thinking things still weren’t working; it turns out my methods of checking how things were working was the thing not working. The good news is, that the correct way to do things is, again, easier than what I was doing.

Just the ups and downs of field research. Equipment breaks, the animals don’t cooperate, methods don’t work and plans change. Success in field research requires flexibility and the ability to adjust quickly.past few weeks also underscores the importance of a support system; I couldn’t do it without the love and friendship of my fiance, friends and family. It also underscores the ablity to ask for help and owning up to mistakes.

Ahh field work. For now, I will leave you with this #overlyhonestmethods (Research is HARD!)



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