that’s a very interesting question that I’m happy to answer to.
One thing that I learnt quite early about being a scientist, it’s that you won’t discover something big on your own (like a cure for a disease), but you can discover small things that all together with the other discoveries form other people can lead to the big discovery. That’s why, it is part of the work of a scientist to communicate to others your discoveries, not only because they could use your discoveries to help their research, but also because you can get ideas from others on how to continue your research.
One of the most important ways of telling people about my work is publishing it in scientific journals. But it’s definitely also important to go to meetings and talk about my work… and to hear other people talk about their work, becasue you never know when you might learn something useful.
I’m going to a meeting in Denmark next week, where I’ll be presenting my work.
Yes definitely. Science is a process where lots of little discoveries add up to big things like new drugs or new cancer screening programmes. We need to share all the little things we find with other scientists so that there aren’t lots of people wasting their time doing the same things. A lot of communication between scientists is through written stuff, like journal articles. But it can be much easier to learn from each other and make progress with your work if you get a chance to talk to other scientists face to face.
Certainly – and I have been to several international conferences to do just that. Meeting people lets you exchange ideas in an informal way, and they can offer you constructive criticism face to face. It’s also usually taken as an opportunity to show off work which you are about to publish – so you can kind of ‘claim’ a particular piece of new science as your own, even though you haven’t published it yet. It would be pretty impolite to rush home after a conference and try and claim you came up with something you saw someone else do!
With the negative impact of flying on the earth’s climate, though, I think scientists should push for more video conferencing and Skype chats – as these are often just as helpful as meeting in ‘real life’.