Kev (abr. Kevin)
Irish, Gaelic orgin. Caoimhin.
1. adorable. 2. gentle one

Walkabout (walk-a-bout)
1 (in Oz) - a walk in the Outback by Aborigines that lasts for an indefinite amount of time. 2 (chiefly British) - an informal stroll among a crowd conducted by an important visitor e.g. a monarch. 3 a walking trip.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Research is 90% failure and 10% success

Haiz... thing hasn't really been going well - I'm talking about my experiments. I have been trying and trying, with different variations to the experimental setup but still futile attempt. Why can't the fragging protein just bind onto the fragging DNA promoter!!?? Is it my buffer? Is it my protein?? What is wrong with my experimental set up!! Well, that is the cons about trying to go into something new - a new field for me; something which I have totally no experiences in. On the lighter side, I will learnt a great deal if I can manage to make it work! But I fear that it's going to take a very very long route before I see the light at the end of the tunnel... haiz...

That's the thing with research. 5-10 years ago, there has been so much hype about Life science, and people just rush into the life science field thinking that they will be great scientist someday. I'm proud to say to I ain't those people. I've always wanted to be a scientist since young, to be a paleontologist to be exact. Never to be a researcher in a lab. LOL... somehow I realised that there is no paleontologist in Singapore and there isn't much ground in Singapore to dig with LOL... And so I side tracked to life sciences since I like biology. Argh.. I digressed. Anyway, to those life science wannabe out there, life is hard in life sciences - so pls don't be con by the government or your relatives. Beside the meritocracy issue where only the best is accepted and recognised by the government or companies, where do you think you will stand amount the hundreds of graduates that pour out into the market every year. Singapore is just too small to accommodate them all! Furthermore, to do research isn't your typical secondary or even JC's science project! A phrase that I always like to use - "Research is 90% failure and 10% success". So you see, unless you are really prepared for it, prepared to be demoralised and thrown back to square one nine out of the ten times! That is exactly what I'm experiencing now.

Sometimes I really question myself why I choose to do a PhD in research. In fact, TJ asked me the very same question just now. Come to think of it, I am doing work to torture myself mentally. Is that 90% of failure justifiable with that 10% of success? Maybe my mental resilience is low - something which I'm not denying. Back to the question of why I choose PhD. A few months back, I see it as a natural progression - to better job security, satisfaction and to do the only thing that I'm good at (or at least that was what I thought!).

I really admire the scientist in the past centuries. They did science purely out of curiosity and interest, and not for a living.

This is what science and research should be all about.


oceanskies79 said...

Hi, I saw this post from and was attracted to read it.

May you continue to see the light at the end of the tunnel in your heart, so that you will still continue moving forward despite the long length of the tunnel.

"Research is 90% failure and 10% success". It just struck me that even if you have failed in research, you have contributed to the field of research by telling others who NOT to do in the future. Contribution can be a form of achievement. Cheers. :)

KeV's wAlKAbOuT said...

Hi Oceanskies, thx for the visit. True that negative result is also result as well - science progress by standing on the shoulders of the predecessor.

But sadly, negative results will only means failure or trouble to a PhD or even honuors project! Unlike the olden times, where real scientist are free of worries to try out whatever they want and not having to worry that their bread and butter depends on it!

oceanskies79 said...

Strangely, your field of work seems to disregard the importance of failure.

I study social work. I remember one of my Prof said that even if we get a nil result, at least we have proven something does not exist.

But I do acknowledge that sometimes failure occur because of lack of though in the research design, and that can be penalised for project. But then again, if the person has already put in enough thought in the design, negative results can also mean that the design still need to be improved upon.

Ah, I think maybe our discussion here have got us to think if there's the need for Singapore to review its assessment framework for research, and to review whether our research culture is indeed helping to groom real scientist?

eastcoastlife said...

Hey Kev,
Hope things will work out for you. I know it's tough, hang on there.

Wish you were here so we can meet and talk at's 1st Anniversary party. :)

Take care.

bokjae said...

Hey Kev, in life first there must be suffering before there is glory! Welcome to life! Go through it with the attitude that everything you do is for a purpose! Cheer-up! God Bless!

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