The annual lifecycle of the medical researcher as told through health news stories
21 Nov 2011
by Amanda Wilson
A quick analysis of stories rated and posted on Media Doctor Australiathis years shows a rather nice curve in the number of stories per month. The average number of stories per month is 9 but this peaks to a high of 21 in July. It could be seen as correlating with the annual activity of the average academic researcher. The early months of the researcher’s year are dedicated to grant writing, usually due in March/April. Any previous funding gained is channelled into getting research started so it’s a busy time with not much output. The middle of the year is when people have time to write papers, publish and put their hard earned research money into practice. It’s also the time when grant applications are being shuffled through and sorted into piles of possible, probably and not a chance in hell. It’s a good season to be seen and have your research talked about and the media stories reflect this.By August, it’s probably too late to have much impact on grant examiners so the research press releases drop off, instead researchers are busy writing grant rejoinders in a last desperate bid to stay viable. September and October bring news which in many cases makes or breaks a researcher’s work. It’s a cut-throat business and more than one rising research star will crash in a burning heap and face a bleak future when the funding rounds are announced. Universities close down over Christmas so November is the time for researchers to wind up studies for the year and brace themselves for the 2012 funding round. For the health media this means a sparse diet of cheap, cheerful and imported Christmas health stories.