Thursday, August 28, 2008

To dive or not to dive

I've got a bit of a dilemma with my critters. You see, the ones I need to study hang out in places that are difficult to access as a human. In order to do what I want to do, I've got to catch or observe them at the very least. After visiting my field site, I've been stumped all summer about how I'm going to do this.

At ESA I talked briefly with a scientist who has the same accessibility problem in her research. As a result, she has learn to scuba dive (FYI- this is an analogy). She said that I should learn how to scuba dive too, and that there's a big scuba workshop happening at the end of September that I should attend where people can teach me how to scuba dive. Or, at the very least, I could meet 'freelance' scuba divers who I could potentially hire to work for me in Ukenzagapia.

Even if I learn how to scuba dive, there will still be logistical difficulties in actually catching critters. I won't be able to do it by myself, so I'll have to have at least one other scuba diver with me. Maybe I can lure some from the U.S. to Ukenzagapia as volunteers with the opportunity to scuba dive in a new, exotic location?

Also, it's expensive to learn how to scuba dive. The scuba course and conference will be $900, which doesn't include another $200-300 to get there. Eventually I'll have to buy my own scuba equipment to use in Ukenzagapia, and I have no idea how much that will cost. It's also potentially dangerous. And the Ukenzagapians would think I was totally, completely crazy. Will I be confident scuba diving in Ukenzagapia where the water is much deeper than most places around here?

On the other hand, this would be a relatively unique skill that would expand my research boundaries if I stay committed to it. Also, my fellowship provides a few thousand dollars for me each year for travel and research. I think I could use these funds to attend the workshop. It does sound like fun. But will it improve my research $2000 worth?

I'd be very interested in hearing if my readers have faced similar dilemmas about learning a specific technique for their research. Should I do it?

10 comments:

Paulina said...

Now I am racking my brain trying to figure out what the real skill you need to learn is, that is as involved as scuba diving... I say learn it, what fun!

Liberal Arts Lady said...

It might be a good thing for the CV...especially if you can get some reimbursement on the training from somewhere (department?). Too bad it's an analogy, 'cause I'm always up for scuba-related research trips :)

brother sky said...

I saw a documentary once where Dennis Quaid portrayed a man who shrank himself, then boarded a small submarine and flew around inside the human body. I think it was based on a true story. Perhaps you could use this technique in your field work?

Or scuba, you know, that works too.

Nicki said...

I would learn to scuba dive :). Like other readers, I too am wracking my brain trying to figure out what the analagous skill might be...

Albatross said...

Besides money, it sounds like you have very little to lose from going. Between the learning and networking, it sounds possible to get your critters in Ukenzagapia.
Is it a skill folks do for fun? If so, advertising for assistants is very common (at least in my area of the field) and there is likely an undergrad/recent unemployed grad/someone somewhere just looking for an amazing opportunity like yours!

Is getting to the critters necessary for your phd? If so, you have to go.
If not, you are right about asking the future worth of the skill. Do you see future collaborations with it? Will it make a big difference in the quality of journal for your work is ultimately published in?

Personally, I'd totally do it. But I (non-analogy) scuba for my reseach =)

sarcozona said...

Learn it! I've never regretted any new skill - needlework to dendrochronological techniques.

Paulina said...

dendrochronologist of the world unite!

S. said...

I say go for it. At worst you might not use it, but if it will help collect data in any way it will be worth it, ten times over. Field work is hard enough.

scuba equipment said...

I think that learning scuba diving skills will help make your research more efficient. But I'm not sure if a workshop can teach you everything you need to learn. It's good to undergo training with a PADI or NAUI affiliated diving school and get certified. Considering the profile of your field site (which I am not privy to), you might just need to take advance diving courses to learn some specialties. -- steve

Karina said...

Hi Steve,
Scuba diving is an analogy for what I'd actually be doing (for the sake of making it harder for people to discover my true identity). But, if I were scuba diving, you're right I'd have to take a real certified course.