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Why You Shouldn’t Worry about Getting Results

Everyone is worried about getting results, aren’t they? Results are what you need for success in science – they are essential for bringing the funding in.

But focusing on results per se is not a good way to work because, as a scientist, you can’t “get” results. You can’t “make” them happen.

Essentially in every experiment you are asking a question of a biological system, and the answer, the result, you obtain will depend on the biological system itself as much as your skill as a scientist.
If whatever you are asking of the system fundamentally does not work or can’t happen, then there is no way you can “get” the result, no matter what you do.

So a better way to work is to focus on how you ask the question.

Your job as a scientist is to ensure that you are asking the question in the right way with a properly researched, well designed and carefully executed experiment. So if you don’t get the result you are looking for then you just have to think about how you asked the question.

Could you have done something better?
Could you have designed the experiment differently?
Is there something you are missing?

If the question can be asked in a better way then a new experiment should be performed and the cycle repeated until you are convinced that the experiment is watertight.

At that point, if you are focused on how you ask the question rather than getting a result, it is a lot easier to accept the negative result while giving yourself credit for the good work you have done and move onto the next question with your confidence, sanity and faith in your scientific method in tact.

And that’s more likely to bring you results in the long run.

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