That's an excellent question, and the answer
depends how you define a "project."
almost entirely on one big project, but there
might be a number of experiments I use to study
different aspects of that project.
example, my project is to investigate and describe
a particular protein from the bacterium Bordetella
(the one that causes whooping cough in people and
kennel cough in dogs). Within that project,
though, I'm trying to find out when and under what
conditions the protein is made by the cells, where
the protein goes after it's made, what happens to
the bacteria when you remove the gene for this
protein (so the protein can no longer be made at
all), and whether animals infected with Bordetella
without my protein get sicker or less sick.
(Whew!That sounds like a lot!) So I guess that's
all one project.
Researchers in my position
might keep a little side project or two going as
well. Since it's just a side project, they might
pick one that's more risky or less likely to work
out well, or they might have a side project to
keep them busy during lulls in their main project.
Technicians and assistants might have only one
or two of those "sub-projects." If you become the
head of a laboratory, then you might have five or
six (or even more) of these big projects going on
in your lab. You wouldn't do all the work
yourself, but you'd be in charge of all of
A project like my Bordetella protein
might last anywhere from two to six
years,depending on how far I take each different
sub-project. Any one of those sub-projects could
be pursued for a year or more--it largely depends
on how the experiments go and what results you
get. If you make a career out of research,you
could pursue a project like this, following new
questions as they arise,for the rest of your
career! I hope that's helpful, and good luck.
Click Here to return to the search form.