Whatever it is, never underestimate your result!

It’s been 3 months since I started to work on my research project. It is about phylogeography of seagrass in relation to the Quaternary glacial-interglacial periods. I am tracing back post-Last Glacial Maximum expansion of the seagrass population based on genetic data (microsatellites and chloroplast DNA).

For the last two weeks, I had been so desperate. My research seemed like no future. Results from my lab work looked completely messed up. Many “holes” which were spread in my genotype matrix should be finished and I was running out of time. Even, I was thinking to give up and change into another research topic.

Yet, I decided to go on. At some points, I realized that I don’t have any reason to give up. The fact that my data looked “so different” (better word than “messed up”) than what I expected doesn’t mean I’ve failed. I did everything based on the protocol. I didn’t do anything stupid. I managed to fix some practical problems I had. The data might show something not predicted before. So, why would I give up? why wouldn’t I continue to analyze the data?

Eventually, I went on. I have been using five programs to explore any pattern from the data (GenClone2.0, GENETIX 4.05, HP-RARE 1.0, STRUCTURE 2.2.3, and ARLEQUIN 3.5). It was not easy actually. Especially, because one of the program (GENETIX 4.05) is in French. And I don’t understand French. I was totally relying on Google Translate to understand the program. My laptop also kept showing error messages because my laptop spec doesn’t meet some programs requirements. But I kept going. The good news was that my supervisor also helped me to run some scripts on STRUCTURE which can take days or even weeks to finish.

Today, all analyses are almost finished.  From now on, I start to see my post-analysis results which looks nice and interesting.

Contrary to what it looked before, my data shows really good pattern after I run some analyses with the programs. I was surprised and happy. My post-analysis results really tell something. It powerfully supports some hypotheses. I can build nice discussion based on it.

So, if you’re doing any research, never underestimate your result, whatever it is. It might tell something. What looks bad, may end up to be something really good. Don’t believe what appears on a first glance until it comes into a pattern. When you see a pattern then you actually see what it is.

Marbee Lab, March 2012.

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