Monday, April 27, 2009

The Joy of Stress

I like reading articles that provide food for thought such as this one "The joy of stress" by Cath Jones from BMJ Careers. The article talks about the stress in medical profession and how some health care professionals interpreted work stress.

Is there a profession stress free? Is there anyone working in a profession free of stress? Most likely no if you want to do a better job and advance your career. The attitude and interpretation of stress really makes a difference in career advancement. Take library instruction as an example. More and more librarians are required to teach especially in academic libraries. It is not unusual librarians resist in teaching and many don't like teaching at all or maybe afraid of teaching. True. What teaching involves can stress you out such as developing curriculum, writing class notes, preparing class materials/handouts, creating subject related exercises, practicing how to deliver the class effectively, and modifying class content constantly based on students' level. Worse of all, you have to overcome the fear of speaking in public. No doubt, the whole procedure can be really stressful and sweating. I had the experience of butterfly in my stomach and palm sweat. Even though I teach once every month, I still feel stressful and nervous before each class.

Is it a good thing feeling stressed? I would use quotations from the article to tell how I love and look at stress.

“To live without stress would be to live in a vegetative state.”

“Pressure is good. It keeps me motivated.”

“Yes, it is a pressurised environment but if you have the right mindset it is enjoyable. It’s about seeing situations as a challenge, searching your own knowledge and looking inside yourself to overcome the problems you face. I find that if I want to perform well I need to have the stick rather than the carrot and that’s why I’ve been attracted to this particular role.”

What is your take?

Friday, April 10, 2009

When Enough information is Enough?

Either doing literature reviews, creating presentation slides, or working on projects, students and faculty constantly struggle with not finding enough information or retrieving too much information. A while ago, I was asked when enough information is enough? Honestly, I also have this question in mind just that it didn't occur to me to summarize it. My answer is simple: it depends on what you need.

Say, you are writing an article or working on your PhD dissertation and you need to do a literature review to see what had been published on this area and if anyone has done similar research. Information can never be enough until you've exhausted all the resources. This has to be a thorough search to get everything relevant out into your plate.

Say, you are writing a grant proposal, you've got a few good articles. You were wondering whether you still need to spend more time looking for more articles. You might stop here if the information you got can provide adequate justification for your proposal.

Say, you are a student trying to research on a topic for your course assignment. You don't have to do a comprehensive search. A few good articles might help you get the work done beautifully.

Say, you are doing a research and you need to look for side effects or adverse reactions of a certain drug used on human beings. It is critical to search the literature comprehensively and properly to ensure you won't miss a single published report of side effects or adverse reactions related to the drug.

My points are:
  • Focus on what you are doing. If you don't know what you are doing, you will never know when information is enough.
  • Understand what you need. If you don't understand what you need, you will never know when information is enough.