There’s no science without failure. But failure can also push scientists out of academia and prevent them from doing what they do best. I hope that this can change by sharing our failures, both in our science (as negative results), and our failures as human beings.
This is why I’ve shared my CV of Failures and started the How I Fail series, where I’ve interviewed 30+ researchers about failure. I am also interested in connections between failure and open science. I have now given several talks and workshops on these topics, and my work has been featured in various media.
In a typical workshop (45 minutes – 2 hours), you can expect (a combination of) the following:
- A history of CV of Failures and why I shared mine
- Interactive parts where you share failures in a safe and fun way
- Types of failures and why some are harder to share
- Lessons learned from How I Fail series
- Tips for dealing with failure in the future
- 4th January 2021 – Workshop at INRIA Rennes, France (virtual) [ Slides ]
- 29th October 2020 – (In)credible research conference, Berlin (virtual) [ Slides ]
- 28th October 2020 – Data Conversations, VU Amsterdam, The Netherlands (virtual) [ Slides ]
See the overview of previous events
What others are saying…
Dr. Christina Bergmann, MPI Psycholinguistics
I asked Veronika to talk about science and failure to students in our graduate school, because being a researcher at the start of a career means you really do only see the shiny successes of your mentors and peers, but not all the ways in which failure is part of the job, too. So you might feel extra bad once your paper gets rejected or you don’t see the results in a study you expected. Veronika did a great job addressing exactly these concerns and much more. She’s an honest speaker who won’t shy away from the difficult topics. Listening to her talk and discussing with her and the students afterwards really got me to thinking about how we all struggle, maybe in different ways, but being a scientist can be tough. But knowing you’re not alone and can build a support network can make a difference, and I hope it does for everyone who attends her talks.
Dr. Natascha van der Zwan, Leiden University
In this workshop, we played a bingo-game that required us to ask each other whether or not we had experienced a particular failure in our careers. For instance: “worked when I was ill”, “missed a submission deadline” or “didn’t help somebody in need”. It was a safe and fun way to think about our personal failures. Next, we made a list of failures in our careers, and the lessons we learned from them. Of course, failing isn’t fun, but it can be useful. One important outcome of our discussion was that we tend to think of failures as something personal, whereas quite often they are the result of circumstances that are out of our control. Competition in academia is intense – look at the huge number of grant applications that are being rejected. Contextualising your own experiences helps to avoid taking failure too personally.
Dr. Melanie Stefan
I know Veronika from Twitter, and have long admired the openness and generosity with which she shares the ups and downs of her professional life. Beyond just talking about her own experiences, she has also started a conversation with others, notably in her “How I Fail” series of interviews. The effect of Veronika’s writing has been two-fold: First, showing struggling academics (i.e. all academics) that they are not alone. And second, helping reveal that a lot of what we perceive as personal failures are actually linked to systemic problems and biases. I have been lucky to collaborate with Veronika on several occasions, including as an interviewee on “How I Fail”. She is professional, dependable, and a delight to work with.
Dr. Ian Goodfellow
As a machine learning researcher with over 100,000 citations on Google Scholar I often get the impression that other people think I was born successful and that everything I’ve done was a success. This impression is definitely wrong and can be very harmful to junior scientists who compare themselves to unattainable standards. Veronika’s ‘How I Fail’ series is an insightful way of helping people get a more realistic people of how careers work, and I personally was glad for the opportunity to share my failures there.
If you like this idea, you can now hire me to give a (virtual) workshop to your group or organization! Please get in touch to get a quote!