by PhilipJ on 22 December 2009
I was surprised the read, over at Incoherently Scattered Ponderings, about the difference The Ponderer sees in hiring a graduate student or a postdoc. Of particular interest were the anecdotes regarding a postdoc who didn’t care to do any of the ‘grunt’ work (soldering), or another postdoc who didn’t want to do any data analysis, favouring undergraduates to do both tasks:
A postdoc in my group wanted to “outsource” most data analysis to an undergrad – which we did (I was lucky to have several talented undergrads) – mostly because postdoc did not want to get heavy into MATLAB. In retrospect, this was a mistake, because now every time we/I had a new idea for data analysis, postdoc had to go looking for undergrad, who was busy with classes, etc. When I was a postdoc I did all of my data analysis – no matter how mind-numbing it was (even though I was often grumpy about it too).
We all like and dislike different aspects of our research. In my field, lots of people hate having to realign lasers, or construct flow cells, or from my old life, pull micropipettes. But I have yet to find someone (other than The Ponderer and his postdoc) who doesn’t love playing around with their data, data that is usually only collected after a significant struggle in the lab. Compound this with the importance of being able to trust and repeat the manipulations you do to tease our important parameters from your data, and I can’t understand why anyone would want to hand off the analysis to someone else. I would prefer to analyze data in lieu of basically any other lab task I can think of.