Introduction into the realm of researcher

Over the last few weeks, I have been synthesizing and drafting a literature review for my professor, regarding the role of agricultural advisors in farming technology uptake. This is quite exciting because I’m learning so much about the field and I also feel as though I am contributing to a greater understanding of this particular area of study, which I suppose is a joy that can be shared by most researchers. The point of researching something is not just to improve one’s own understanding of it, but to spread that information with other people, which I believe can be very satisfying. However, I had no idea that there was just so much reading involved! This may sound naïve, but the number of papers I have read just to write a 6 page paper is astounding, especially as only a handful of the papers I read were incorporated into my review. More than anything, this work has helped me understand just how much work goes into the spread and transfer of information from one sphere to another. Yet the sense of accomplishment that comes with this is definitely worth the amount of seemingly fruitless work that is put into it.

Recently I was also very lucky to be able to join the professor I work with when he gave a presentation on several sustainable intensification techniques to several members of the government. Part of being a researcher in this particular field is making sure that the information you find is then presented to the government. Without government support, sustainable intensification is unlikely to be adopted as it needs significant injections of funds. This communication between researcher and government was something I had never seen before, and I feel very thankful that I was given the opportunity to see how it works as it gave me insight into what is required to be an effective policy advisor. I was slightly surprised as the presentation was not quite what I expected; rather than Dr. Barnes speaking to an auditorium, we all sat around the table while Dr. Barnes presented his information but the floor remained open to comments at any time, making the whole thing incredibly collaborative. For example, there were parts of his presentation that some of the government members noticed were not as holistic as they might be, leaving out information that could be crucial to effective technology implementation. While I think Dr. Barnes was slightly frustrated or perhaps disappointed with these comments initially (it is hard when you have invested so much time into something that you feel strongly about, only for someone to point out that it might be lacking in some way) I think these comments were incredibly important. They provided areas for future research and investigation, as well as showing points of view that couldn’t be seen before by one person alone. It was inspiring to see not only the material presented, but also the amount of collaboration that was involved. The whole day was an incredibly eye-opening experience into the world of being a researcher and policy advisor.