The Peanuts Teacher, Research Articles, and What Really Matters

A friend of mine finished his PhD as I was just getting started. He gave me a great piece of advice saying, “No one will ever be as excited about your research as you are.” He was right! And I’m so thankful he warned me. In fact, I’ve decided that not only are people not as excited as I am about my research but that they are not even excited AT ALL. But whyyyyyy???? How can something so ground-breaking and hope-filled not make you hang on every word in my description of the sample, the intervention, the advanced multivariate statistical procedures I use to determine efficacy, and the clear and undeniable discussion of the benefits, strengths, limitations, and implications for future research that I so painstakingly include in every single scientific article I publish? Why. doesn’t. that. excite. you?

“No one will ever be as excited about your research as you are.” Kevin Basik, PhD

When I talk about my research, I watch eyes glaze over as if I’m talking like the Peanuts teacher. I’ll say, “The mechanism of change in cognitive rehabilitation training is the concept of neuroplasticity and neural reassignment.” The person I’m sharing such information with appears to be hearing, “Waa waa wa waaa waa waaaaaa.” This is soooo cool. How can he NOT wanna hear more? What’s wrong with him?

Being the curious and determined scientist that I am, I begin dissecting the problem. I consider ALL the variables that might contribute to this quandary I have. Can it really be as simple as an unequal level of interest about my topic? If so, how can I balance the scale and increase the interest of my listener/reader? How can I make him love this as much as I do? (Because, well, shouldn’t he?) Think you have the answer? I don’t. I even tried Googling it. (Really, I did.) Nothing. Nada. Zilch. There is NO answer to this question. It just is what it is. No one will ever be as excited about your research are you are. Sigh.

But, in an a-ha! moment after wallowing in sorrow over not finding a solution I realized that what does leave an impression is the fact that you did the research, you published the research, and the world has a little bit more knowledge because of your research. And what’s more? In my work, we help people in our research. Not zebrafish or sea elegans or mice or monkeys. People. And those people don’t have to read the article to know the benefits. They live them. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. My work…not the article ABOUT my work…mattered. I can live with that.

From my brain to yours-

Dr. Amy

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