In the lab where I did my PhD, it seemed like almost every grad student had one (or more) episodes when doing science just seemed too hard, when too many experiments failed, when you did too many stupid things that didn’t help in getting those data, when there were too many disappointments and you realized that you had been in the lab for more than 2 years now and you still only had very little data to show for. We called it the PhD-dip, and it usually resolved itself when after the 5th try all of a sudden experiments started working and the data started to poor down on you. It was nice to know that all of us went through this at some point (and usually at about the same time, after 2-3 years in the lab).
Now I’m in the third year of my post-doc, and I’ve tweeted a lot of #disgruntledpostdoc tweets lately. Yesterday I even wondered out loud whether there were other jobs out there that didn’t bring so much disappointment. I don’t like to feel like such a pessimist but I think I’ve discovered what the problem is: I’m having another PhD-dip. As I said, I’ve been in the lab for a little over two years now, and I came here to learn slice electrophysiology, so I spent a couple of months learning to do that well enough. Then I also decided to set up a behavioral paradigm that the lab didn’t have and on top of that I had BlueEyes. All of the papers from my PhD have been accepted, so there’s no happiness from accepted papers, and I’m still waiting to hear back from a fellowship application that was supposed to give notice in March. When I think about it in a rational way, I’m pretty sure that I will start producing data pretty soon. On top of that, I will be 2ndauthor on two papers that will hopefully be submitted soon. But in moments when I get the umpteenth disappointment, and on top of that I’m tired because BlueEyes doesn’t sleep very well, I don’t feel all that happy about science anymore.
Diagnosing that it’s ‘just’ another PhD-dip helps though. It makes me realize that I just have to keep going and that someday I will be showering in data again! I hope that day will be soon though…