A praise to the volunteer spirit in research

Many of the unexpected (and thereby fun) results from a research project come from the strong volunteer spirit among researchers. I could have complained about inadequate funding of independent research. I am sure I could have filled an entire blog with such a complaint. Likely, everyone would nod approvingly and agree that yes, there is too little money and too little time to answer important questions. On another occasion, most likely on many other occasions, I will complain about this. But not today! Today I want to praise the volunteer spirit I see amongst scientists, with colleagues at NIVA as my closest and most solid example.

One of my projects funded by the Research Council of Norway ended some time ago and the results have been published. But there is still something there...I see some trends in a data set that indicate relationships that we did not see before. We see the contour of another good story that has not yet been told. I have told myself over and over again that the project is finished, finished and published. Close the door and go I think, for it must be mentioned that after the project is closed no more funding is left. I work in the institute sector, in which no intelligent thought can be thought without connecting it to a project number with funding.

But the idea will not completely let go, the story we see in the data set when we late at night run simple ANOVA's, wants out! So I send an email to my busy-busy colleagues at NIVA and ask as carefully as I can if we are to move forward with this story, or if we should let it go. This implies that further analysis and article writing is done on evenings and weekends, between projects with strict deadlines and fieldwork, after little children have gone to bed, but before patient partners put their foot down. And the answer is not just "yes", but it is "YES!" With capital letters and exclamation marks, "we go for voluntary work". So then it's settled, we will look closer at the data on fish caught along the wave exposure gradients and the stomach content from different functional groups.

This is what I love about my colleagues and researchers in general. You wonder about something and you cannot refuse to take a tiny look. Then funding is not so important. Although all logic, in the age of the time squeeze indicates that such volunteer projects would never survive. At least not in the relentless institute sector.

A good day to you all

Sincerely, Trine

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