It’s been a long week. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time in front of a computer fighting with R. For the uninitiated, R is a statistics package which can invoke both satisfaction and swearing, the balance of each depending on your coding ability. With help (and some swearing), I managed to analyse a dataset and use it to create a lovely model last week. This week, I used the model and another dataset to predict other parameters and started analysing them. It all looked good and I was feeling like I would end the week on a high – this was serious progress towards what will be the first paper from my PhD. Unfortunately, just as the clock was about to strike 5pm yesterday, I noticed something unexpected in the predictions. Perplexed, I went back to the original model, ran some plots and saw a big problem that somehow managed to escape me in my joy at getting the model to work. This means it’s back to the drawing-board with the model and that everything I did this week will have to be re-done when a new model is ready.
I’m feeling more philosophical about this now than I was last night. I am slowly becoming more comfortable using R, I learned some new techniques that I will undoubtedly use again, and at least I noticed the problem before my supervisor, or worse, a journal reviewer. Everyone has warned me that PhDs are full of setbacks – and with unprecedentedly bad weather and a plethora of broken equipment this summer, I have experienced this myself already. However, it is still hugely frustrating! Of course I’m sure I’ll be able to work through it and get the results I need, but I’ve decided I need to take a break from it to regroup first, so I’m going to ignore it until after the weekend. Luckily, I have the excuse of a few things little jobs in the lab and field, as well as preparation for my first year viva, which is on Monday.
I think dealing with, and moving on from, challenges, delays and obstacles will be one of the most important things I take away from this project. To do this though, sometimes you need a bit of space to think about something else for a while. Maybe a couple of easy wins in the lab with help put me back on track? If not, I’ll find solace in chocolate and cats. Actually, that’ll probably happen regardless.