Nine years ago my dismay at the way certain Ecstasy and pot enthusiasts conducted misinformation campaigns online, and dismay over certain realities of the scientific career arc reached a threshold.
I had been reading science blogs and, particularly, several ScienceBlogs, so the outlet immediately presented itself.
Much spleen has been vented and my sanity kept near the critical line.
I've read comments from people that I would have never known, still don't beyond the confines of this blog in many cases* and learned a great deal as a consequence.
I've gotten to know people in my field that I would have known only at a handshake level. I've gotten to know some fantastic people in other fields or walks of life that I would have never run across.
In short, it has been a lot of fun writing this blog over the past nine years.
I can quit anytime I want.
*as recently as the last few months I've had a long term blog commenter out self to me and I was shocked to discover it wasn't a woman like I thought.
January is a great time to look at yourself in the mirror and ask what your plan is for improving your record of publication.
What are your usual hurdles that get in the way? What are the current hurdles?
What works to get you moving?
My biggest problem is me.
We're at the point in my lab where available data are not really the issue, we have many dishes cooking along in parallel at most times. Something is always ready or close to being ready to serve up.
The problem is almost always the wandering of my attention and my energy to kick something over the final step to submission.
The game I have taken to playing with myself is to see how long I can go with at least one manuscript under review. I made it something like 14 mo a few years ago. Of course I then promptly fell into another extended dry spell but....
The other game I play with myself is to see how many manuscripts we can have under review simultaneously. That is, of course, much more subject to the ebb and flow of project maturation and the review process. But if we happen to have a few stacking up, sure I'll use the extra motivation to keep my attention pegged to finishing a draft.
When all else fails there is always "We need this published in order to help get this next grant funded, aiieeeee!"
Scientifically, that is.
I like the answer Zoe gave for her own question.
I, too, just hope to be viable as a grant funded research laboratory. I have my desires but my confidence in realizing my goals is sharply limited by the fact I cannot count on funding.
Edited to add:
When I was a brand new Assistant Professor I once attended a career stage talk of a senior scientist in my field. It wasn't an Emeritus wrap-up but it was certainly later career. The sort of thing where you expect a broad sweeping presentation of decades of work focused around a fairly cohesive theme.
The talk was "here's the latest cool finding from our lab". I was.....appalled. I looked over this scientist's publication record and grant funding history and saw that it was....scattered. I don't want to say it was all over the place, and there were certain thematic elements that persisted. But this was when I was still dreaming of a Grande Arc for my laboratory. The presentation was distinctly not that.
And I thought "I will be so disappointed in myself if I reach that stage of my career and can only give that talk".
I am here to tell you people, I am definitely headed in that direction at the moment. I think I can probably tell a slightly more cohesive story but it isn't far away.
I AM disappointed. In myself.
And of course in the system, to the extent that I think it has failed to support my "continuous Grande Arc Eleventy" plans for my research career.
But this is STUPID. There is no justifiable reason for me to think that the Grande Arc is any better than just doing a good job with each project, 5 years of funding at a time.
Whatcha got for me today?
The science has been getting better and better in my group lately. Progress on most fronts and I'm pretty stoked for what is going on.
I think I am getting increasingly grumpy with Internet dumbassery at the same time.
Which I find very strange.