Field of Science

Field work and blogging - incompatible?

April stands for so many things: spring begins, tax season ends (very significant if you're married to a CFP), the end of the semester is in sight, deadlines and events abound, and all of this pales because it is also the beginning of field season, that time of year when the natural cycle of your research organism requires that you begin spending significant amounts of time out of your office, out of your lab, and away from your university. There is a satisfying component to this work, especially if you are smart enough leave electronic communication devices turned off (or, if you are truly enlightened and have achieved oneness with creation, you do not own such things).

It is a good sign when you manage to find 107 out of 108 quadrats after your prairie has been burned. The 108th is still there, but it's location somewhat uncertain until the corner pin is found using a metal detector. And it is a good sign that the exposed bones do not belong to that graduate student who went missing last semester. It is always a surprise to see how many skeletons, both big and small (deer, beaver, fox, vole), are visible after a prairie burning. I wonder if my patch of prairie is something of an elephants' graveyard that all injured or terminally ill animals seek out.

But in spite of the fact that I am relieved of teaching and administrative duties this spring, I find it difficult to have the time to do field work and keep up with everything else. Two journals are waiting for me to review articles on floral biology. A doctoral research proposal is demanding my immediate attention. My own expansive estate is calling for attention. And I have a book manuscript and three research articles to complete.

And then there is the Phytophactor. In the middle of winter, when field work is out of sight and out of mind, starting a blog seemed like a good idea. I like the venting blogging allows. But I wonder about other bloggers, especially those in science. Apparently very few do field work. Maybe very few do science either judging by their attention to the pseudproductivity of blogging. Many seem rather young, and perhaps they have fewer responsibilities beyond their teaching and research. Or they have much smaller gardens, if any. Very few seem to be ecological or botanical. Does this say something about the temperment of botanical ecologists, or is this just a measure of how much time they have, or how little sleep they need? Dare I suggest field work and blogging may be incompatible? Nah!


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The Phytophactor said...

Thanks Ashish, and now I guess you understand why my email address doesn't appear anywhere.