Note, by highly technical skills I mean anything that isn’t directly taught by your course (i.e. programming/coding, use of specialist lab equipment, mathematical expertise)
I am student of Earth Sciences/Geography within the UK.
I’m planning on doing a masters and in brainstorming ideas for my application’s thesis proposal, I often run up against the issue of lacking specific technical skills needed to conduct the study. Should I let this hamper me? I worry I’m restricting my potential by only choosing topics in which I can wholly conduct every step of the research/analysis independently.
For example, my undergraduate dissertation required large datasets and modifying open-source software, meaning I independently taught my self to code. Another student looked at microfossils which required the use of a spectrometer.
Although both of skills were not taught to us, I independently taught my self to code while uni staff operated the spectrometer machine for my peer, meaning he didn’t have to learn it.
If I want to study, say, microplastics in fish, will I need to be able know how to use the required lab equipment and interpret the results or is it acceptable to outsource this?
To word my question another way, University thesis: How can you utilise highly technical skills without falling into the rut of teaching your self everything from scratch?
I taught my self coding for the sake of my undergraduate dissertation, at the cost of a loss of free time which could be spent on my area of study (Earth Science, not Computer Science). Coding is not the direction I want to take in life despite the effort to learn it. I, therefore, do not want to invest so heavily in another one-off skill for my masters.
My two main concerns are:
- Restricting my potential research topics to studies which I can wholly conduct and interpret each research technique.
- Become stuck teaching my self a skill which I do not desire to follow up in the future (i.e. a statistical technique, coding, lab equip)
- Use up a lot of time independently learning said technique
Real life example
In the question linked here, a SE user discusses how during his masters two programmers were hired to help with programming. Would it be reasonable to request the university for someone to help with a skill I’ve not been taught (i.e. coding or high-level statistics) for my master’s thesis?