Aaargh, it’s back on my desk!

When I was a postdoc, I did a big project that was not a very good idea. I spent years on it. I wrote a manuscript which was harshly rejected and required many more months of lab work to revise. I submitted the new manuscript to a different journal a few months ago, and for awhile was in that blissful state of “in review,” where you don’t have to think about a paper and it’s on your CV and all is well with the world.

It got rejected, which is not too surprising. And now I am going to try to turn it around with minimal revisions and send it to a lower-ranking journal in about a week.

But it is SO disheartening to have to think about this paper again. Especially since more people have published stuff while this manuscript was being reviewed, stuff that I need to read and cite before resubmitting.

It makes me cranky. I want to spend my precious research time on things I like, not this stupid paper.


On scheduling meetings

I work with very busy and important people, and I have to schedule meetings for them all to attend.

This is pretty much impossible.

(By the way, if you need to do the same, I highly recommend

Anyway, I had to set up a meeting with many busy and important people, and of course there was no time that everyone could meet in the next couple of weeks. After days of back and forth, I finally picked a time that only three people would miss, and sent out an email with that time.

Within 10 minutes, two of the three people who were not available for that time slot sheepishly sent me an email saying that they could, in fact, be there for that meeting.

Writing these emails wouldn’t be so bad if somebody READ them

The text of an email I sent yesterday:

For the [funding agency name redacted] report, I need “brief biographical information in one page or less” from all of you. Basically, this is a one-page version of your [redacted]; the conflict of interest info is not required. I am attaching examples from [redacted]. Please send me your 1-page bios in the next week or so.


1. How many pages should this bio be?

2. How many people got the wrong answer to #1 yesterday??


Re: Fwd: Fwd: Re: Email

Lately, if someone were to ask me what my job is, I would answer “Writing emails.”

I write emails. Then I wait for people to answer them. Most people don’t, so I have to write another email to follow up on the first email. Sometimes I make phone calls about why my emails weren’t answered.

When I do get responses to my emails, half the time the responders don’t actually give me the information I requested but instead either 1) ask me a different question or 2) explain why they can’t/haven’t yet/don’t have time yet/don’t know/are not the right people to give me the requested information.

Then I respond to that email and the cycle starts again.

I am pretty sure this is not the most efficient way to get work done.

The “alt-ac” track

After an epic and ultimately unsatisfying (but not technically failed) tenure-track job search, I began to wonder once again what exactly it was I wanted to be when I grew up. At that moment, I saw an intriguing ad for a job as one of the directors of a well-funded and exciting research center in my field. I applied, despite my conviction that I was underqualified… and got the job. And now here I am, trying to figure out how to get things done (the 75% administrative part of my job) while not losing myself (the 25% research part of my job). So far, so good… but we’re just getting started.

Unlike the graduate school/post-doc/adjunct/tenure-track world, there isn’t much out there in the blogosphere about jobs like this one. The first time I saw the phrase “alt-ac track” was in this recent article at ProfHacker, and even in that article there’s no acknowledgment that such jobs exist in the sciences. I decided to start this blog to write about what it’s like to be in this position, and hopefully meet other people in the same kind of career. So… hello!