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April 2006 - Well it is all over for another year - or is it?

What a great meeting it was. I admit to not being enthused by the theme but boy was I proved wrong. I found much to ponder on and much to action. Paul Enright's catchcry quickly become the theme of the meeting. In those two simple words resides a message that underlies our role as scientists in the provision of respiratory physiology investigators.

Tuesday was the first real chance I got to talk with people and by Wednesday morning my head was bursting at the seams with ideas for future research both new and developing the old. What to do first? How to prioritise? How to remember those ideas for further down the track?

While in Canberra I took time out to visit the Constable exhibition at the National Gallery. I will always look at light differently now. The exhibition had a similar effect on me to that had by a Monet exhibition many years ago. The other thing that I found interesting was the way that Constable developed a painting. He spent many many hours on many many days sketching clouds on Hampstead heath until he had a technique that worked. He also repainted scenes many times over many years - often with relatively small detail changes - until he was satisfied he had captured what he originally envisioned. What ended up in his final picture was developed, not in one session, but often over a number of years and with multiple attempts.

I think there is a lesson for us all in his method of work. We too need to keep notebooks in which we can record our ideas for research. This will guard against the kernel of an idea being lost. We can develop our ideas along the way through discussion with others, through papers we might read and simply by revisiting the idea perhaps in a different context. Such a notebook would help us prioritise any time we may steal for research. Perhaps you get an opportunity for a work placement or a tertiary student may need a research project. Having a notebook full of ideas means you off at a trot instead of fumbling around looking for suitable ideas.

In developing ideas with other people, it is very important that we act as professionals and recognise intellectual property rights. The day that people stop sharing ideas for fear of someone else taking them as their own, would be a very sad day indeed for respiratory Science in Australia and New Zealand. Collaborative research is something I believe firmly in. An important part of collaboration is acknowledge-ment of all those involved. This is common sense stuff but we all need to keep uppermost in our minds the preservation of the scientific integrity of our profession.

This next year or so will put a lot of pressure on us all to produce work for presentation at meetings. We in the West have our Branch meeting with TSANZ in August (and I am sure that other branches will have the same at some stage) we have the Auckland meeting in March 2007, APSR on the Gold Coast in November 2007 and Melbourne in March 2008. Timelines for abstract submission are going to come around very quickly indeed and we all need to plan well ahead. We all work by stealing time and it is not easy to get research done. The APSR meeting is very important to the Society's future and we must all make an effort to submit abstracts for it. We, cannot however, afford to neglect our own meetings. As difficult as it may be to practice it, research is one of the keys to being a scientist.

Rather than it being all over, it has really just begun.

I have started my own notebook - and no, the doodles will not come close to being a match for Constable.

'til next month,


April, 2006




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