We may all be stuck at home but there is still science to be done! Admittedly it’s currently very hard to do science that involves large lasers or going outside for more than an hour at a time, but with a bit of creativity there is still research we can do.

1. Write up papers

A lot of researchers build up work that needs turning into papers but they never get time thanks to grant writing/meetings/emergency evacuations/training (delete as appropriate).

Writing up papers needs no equipment save for possibly a computer. And you can do it on your sofa, in the garden or in front of a picture of someone else’s garden you’ve stuck to the wall of your flat.

Even if you don’t have everything you need for a paper, now is a great time to at least make a start on a paper you might get all the data for later.

2. Organise your data

No judgment but be honest, your data is a huge mess of random folders and hastily made up file names. It happens to all of us and it’s part of the somewhat frantic way research happens.

Folders with names like TEMP and NEW TEMP clutter the data archives of every researcher.

Now is a great time to go though it all and sort it into something that a normal human could navigate. Trust me it will help a lot later when you start back up.

3. Improve your lab notes

Like data lab notes can sometimes be a little be anarchic and written with all the fineness of a drunk rolling in ink. Again this is the perfect time to go back over those notes and make them legible.

You can always use our terrible guide to lab book writing to help you.

4. Learn how to code

There is no research discipline that isn’t in somewhat helped by knowing some code. Just learning a bit of Python or Java can really help you understand computers and maybe give you a whole new tool set to work with when you can get back to proper work.

I can be daunting at first but code is now being taught in school to kids all over the world and if they can do it then you can too! Get started at Code.org.

5. Write a Wikipedia article

Wikipedia is amazing. It’s not perfect but it does a fantastic job of making a lot of information available to anyone on almost any topic imaginable. But it’s knowledge is limited by what people take the time to actually write up.

Now is a great time to add to an article in your subject area and help add to that knowledge for struggling students that just want something to help them grasp a concept.

If want a idea of where to start well ErrantScience doesn’t have an article yet, so if someone wanted to start one… *cough*

6. Have virtual tea

Research is a lot about talking to people and sharing ideas. Don’t stop doing that just because you’re at home. Find colleagues or social media people you can have a cup of tea with and share what your thinking or worried about. If you don’t like talking to people then just sitting on a call listening is fine too.

Virtual meetings aren’t exactly the most fun but small amounts of social interaction with your peers can spur ideas and just make you feel a lot better about doing all these things while stuck inside.


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ErrantScience roundup: Terrible lab books and doing research at home – ErrantScience · May 6, 2020 at 13:01

[…] 6 ways to do research at home […]

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