Tomorrow, we have an important lab meeting with summer coming up: good field practices. We will bring together the master and PhD-students working with us to talk about the do’s and don’ts in the field, and to learn from each other experiences on how to make data collection easier.
I have been spending every summer since 2014 in the wonderful landscape of northern Scandinavia, and have seen mountains, cities and oceans. I have sampled plants, soils and insects, I slept in tents, huts and even under the open sky. What I learned is this: you cannot be prepared for everything, but you can at least try: being prepared can make your life a lot safer and easier.
Good field practices is a very broad topic: there is personal hygiene, energy, weather protection and first aid; there is measurement tools, data back-ups and field site documentation. There is ticks, bears, interested passers-by, suspicious land owners and police officers. There is twisted ankles, tiredness and demotivation. Some of it you can fix, some of it you can’t. But all of it goes better with a bit of thought in advance.
In Good Field Practices, your personal well-being, and that of your fieldwork crew comes first (which is exactly why we are organizing this lab meeting on this critical topic). If all of that is taken care off, it is the science: thinking about what data you want to collect and what your priority order is. You will never do exactly what you planned for (sometimes more, more often less), and there is always surprises.
You see, a critical lab meeting tomorrow, and one hour is most certainly far from enough. But it is an opportunity to get us talking and thinking together, and it should get them in the field with a better picture of what lies ahead than what I had at the start.