So, my horrible paper that I have submitted to four journals finally got a revise and resubmit this time, hooray! The trouble is, it is a very big revision that they have requested. Fine, fine, I’ll do it, even though it is extremely painful.

The journal has given me two months to revise and resubmit, and I spent most of that first month traveling and attending or running conferences. Now I’ve got just under one month and I’m not confident in my ability to do all that work in that short period of time. I did get started on it a week ago but, well, it’s a lot of work.

So I’m considering asking for an extension for the first time in my life. Anybody have any experience doing that? Should I ask now? Or would it be better to wait until closer to the deadline? Will they give me an extension, or should I just work harder to try to make the deadline?


I’m back!

My Epic Summer of Epicness (and Epic Exhaustion) is pretty much over now – and not a moment too soon. I am tired, people. I spent a month in the field, which was great and all, but tiring, then drove back across the country, went to work for four days, then flew to another place for a friend’s wedding, came home for less than 24 hours – 4 of which I spent at work – and then drove five hours away for a big conference. All of this was wonderful and time well spent, but there wasn’t much time for sleep in there.

Now my life is somewhat normal again, although still very busy. Next week is our center’s annual conference, so it’s a bit crazy around here as we try to get it all organized.

Some updates on my productivity:

  • of the three papers that were in review already, one was accepted (which I already wrote about), one was favorably reviewed but rejected as not being right for the journal, and the last one – the paper that won’t die, the one that has been to four journals – finally got a revise and resubmit!! Hooray! A whole lot of major revisioning has been requested but this is huge progress compared to the last three years.
  • I am currently working on a review paper with a friend of mine who works on the same topic as me. Pretty happy about that.
  • I presented preliminary results from this summer’s fieldwork last week at the conference, in which I tested what may sound to some like a really crazy idea, but it was very well received. Several people said to me that they had noticed this phenomenon too and wondered if it was what I thought it was. (Sorry for the vagueness). Anyway, I think it could lead to a cool little paper.
  • And I met up with an old friend while I was there who wants to collaborate, which will involve me doing fieldwork this winter in my backyard. Awesome!

I know things have been very quiet on this blog this summer, but I am planning a big comeback. The alt-ac thing is gaining interest and popularity, both on the internet and in real life. There were some articles posted recently that I want to talk about, and some experiences I’d like to share… so stay tuned!

Productivity peaks

The reviewers wanted to see a new analysis, so I ran it yesterday. To my surprise and glee, the results were significant and they strengthened my conclusion. Hooray! I plan to go ahead and resubmit tomorrow, once my co-authors look it over today. They’ve been surprisingly speedy lately, so I’m not worried. I also got comments back from co-authors on my newest manuscript, and I plan to submit that by the end of the month. Finally, I plan to revise the manuscript that won’t die and submit it to its fourth journal in May. This means that, for the first time in my life, I will have THREE manuscripts in review at once. [Possibly FOUR, if Ambitious Grad Student actually submits the ‘omics paper, on which I’m second author, next month!]

What the hell is up with all this productivity? Why on earth couldn’t I do this while I was a postdoc? I’ve been giving this question some thought lately. One answer is that I was busy collecting all this data while I was a postdoc… but that doesn’t quite explain it. Data collection for the revise-and-resubmit was completed last August. The paper that won’t die has been going round and round for years.

It’s certainly not that I have more time to spend on research now. My job description includes 25% independent research, but that time is not evenly distributed across the week, month, or year. Right now things have been a little slow on the administrative side and I’ve probably spent closer to 50% of my time on research. Other times of the year it’s closer to 0-10%. Although my postdoc wasn’t 100% research – I was also lab manager – I had a much larger proportion of my time to spend on research, maybe 75%. Am I just working harder now?

I think this change has more to do with my perspective on things. I spent lots of time on these projects as a postdoc. I spent a lot of time running statistics and despairing when the results seemed uninterpretable. I spent even more time despairing about the job market and my good-but-not-stellar publication record. It all seemed so hopeless.

Now, I already have a job… so research and publication seems so much more fun and so much less like a duty. Having the security of a job I like removes some of the despair from the process. When I was analyzing data most recently for the newest paper, the results didn’t make any sense at first – but I didn’t freak out and give up like I used to. I didn’t know what it meant, but each day I went ahead and analyzed the data I had planned to work on that day, and I moved on. By the end, the data presented an intriguing picture, and I was led to a conclusion that was pretty unexpected. The same thing happened for the revise-and-resubmit. In both papers, my hypotheses were not supported – but the results were so much more interesting that I expected.

I really think that since I’m more relaxed about it, I’m able to carry out my research much more effectively. I wonder if others have this experience too? Some people say that they work better under pressure – and the stereotype is that assistant professors work their asses off to get tenure and then don’t work nearly as hard after achieving it. I know that’s not true, and I wonder if some post-tenure people are actually more productive because the pressure’s off.

Revise and resubmit

This manuscript just got a revise-and-resubmit decision, with generally quite positive comments. Hooray! And wow, that was fast. I’ve published in this journal before and I like it quite a lot – and on top of all its other positive qualities, it has a double blind review process.

Also, the manuscript that I worked on during Research Week is nearly finished, and I am planning to send it to co-authors by the end of this week. I have more to say about my writing process on that one, but it will have to wait – it’s time to get ready for work. I’m absurdly pleased with myself at this moment…

Research Week: the conclusion

It’s Friday! I am back in the office today and therefore making more progress. I played with my data this morning, and after ln-transforming the data (why, oh why, do I always forget about that), they finally make some sense. Hooray!

Today’s progress:

Minutes spent writing: 120 (I skipped the 30 minutes of crap writing today)

Words written: 484 (more time playing with data than actually writing)

Papers read: 2

And here are the final statistics of my progress during Research Week:

Minutes spent writing: 690

Words written: 12,405

Papers read: 10

Not too shabby. Can I keep this up during a regular week? Probably not. But I don’t see any reason why I can’t try to incorporate more of this into my daily work routine. Maybe reading one paper and spending 60 minutes of research writing a day (even if it’s broken into smaller chunks of time) is not unreasonable.

As spring break comes to an end, there are finally signs of spring around here. It’s sunny outside, and next week it’s supposed to warm up considerably. Oh, and here are today’s shoes, which I love (and not just because I got them for $26 on eBay):

I don’t know if it’s the weather, the shoes, or the research progress, but my ennui is just about gone.

Research Week, Day 4 Report

I don’t know if any of you out there have ever tried to work productively at home, with 8 territorial and emotionally needy pets (ok, only 7 – the tortoise doesn’t really give a shit about anything except his heat lamp and food) – which is bad enough, but just wait ’til you get to the end of the sentence — while having a new furnace installed. If you haven’t tried it but are considering it, let me give you a word of advice: don’t.

I did my 30 minutes of crap writing this morning, and then sort of fumbled through 90 minutes of researchy writing cutting and pasting. It was too difficult to concentrate with the banging coming from the basement, the dog barking and whining, the cat growling at the noise in the heating vent, the other cat insisting on climbing into my lab because he’s cold and there’s no heat, and the parrot squawking. I haven’t even bothered trying to read any scientific papers. I did answer a whole bunch of work emails. But this afternoon I don’t seem to be accomplishing much besides laundry and reading the Regretsy archives.

Maybe I’ll get more done later today… maybe not. But here’s the tally so far:

Minutes spent writing: 120

Words: 2490

Papers read: 0

Progress on manuscript: thought of many ways in which I’m doing it wrong. Is that progress?

Weather: colder, grayer, and freaking SNOW.

Shoes: well, I haven’t left the house today, so I’m not wearing shoes. But I am wearing these:

Now with bonus territorial dog and chilly cat.

Update: After posting this, I felt bad about myself for being a slacker, so I ate a Cadbury Creme Egg and read two papers (so what if they were just short communications?). Here’s a photo of the good dog, being good:

Research Week, Day 3 Report

Still going well! I don’t think I’d be able to keep up this level of productivity any time other than spring break or summer, though – it’s awfully quiet around here right now.

Minutes spent writing: 150

Words written: 2863 (but most of those were not new words – I did a lot of editing today)

Papers read: 2

Progress on manuscript: Looking good! I edited the Introduction and Methods sections and I’m pretty pleased with them. I think I’m going to have to go back and run more statistics before I get much further with Results and Discussion, though.

Weather: gray and rainy. I guess I should be glad that it’s above freezing, though, right?