Monday, December 03, 2007

More responses to thoughtful comments.

Matt,

Thanks for the correction, you're right.

Noah,

I appreciate your point about demographics shifting, and I guess I still hope that might help change things. Who knows? In a few more years maybe the face of 'scientist' will be a woman, the way most of us still conjure a picture of a woman when we hear the word 'nurse.' It's not necessarily bad that we have these associations..... unless you're one of the minority.

Your assumptions that I don't understand what PIs are doing when they're protecting their own research program, however, are insulting.

Believe me when I tell you I've seen enough outright manipulation of projects and people to be well aware of what PIs have in mind when they're ignoring one person, pushing another, burying data, rushing papers, and all the other wonderful things people do when their money and ego are on the line.

I've seen, I'd like to think by now, it all.

While some grad students and postdocs might be able to persist in blissful ignorance, I have not had that luxury. I'm cursed with being overly observant... and always being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I just hope that I won't be tempted to do half the shit I've seen PIs do, out of sheer desperation or selfishness.

I do appreciate your point of view that being non-anonymous would somehow help me and/or the system, but I'd argue that on balance, I still piss off more people than I please.

Or maybe the pissed-off people are just more vocal/memorable.

Either way, the experience of blogging has taught me that I probably wouldn't like being a celebrity. I can't imagine having people watching my every move and picking on everything I say.

Luckily, anonymity affords me the opportunity to pick fights just for the sake of argument, which I actually try to avoid doing in real life. Arguing in real-time makes me tired. And I mostly find it boring. If I can't convince you, okay. At least with writing, I can say my piece, and you can choose to read it or not. Putting it out there is usually enough for me.

And, um, contrary to your suggestion, I'm not strong enough to take on the establishment and win. If I were, I would have a job by now. I mean, are you kidding? You're kidding, right?

John Q. Jackass hasn't gotten his head chopped off because he doesn't stick his neck out. That's why he has a job and I don't. Just because I don't agree with it doesn't mean I'm not aware of how the system works.

I've thought about ditching this blog entirely and/or starting one under my own name where I would discuss, um, science. My science.

I guess the main reason I haven't is fear. Fear of
a) looking less professional through vanity publishing
b) pissing people off inadvertently.

Having this blog has taught me one thing, in case I had actually forgotten: you never know what's going to piss people off. You just really never know.

CC,

You're right, and I hadn't seen the Engineering Science blog, either.

I know what you mean about these ridiculous blanket statements about cutting or adding money to the NIH budget, as if the money is being allocated fairly in the first place. It's a huge problem, and I don't pretend to understand how much things at that level really cost, but I see so much waste on a daily basis that I can only begin to imagine what I would do differently if I were in charge.

Now that would be an interesting job.

Anonymous,

Your point about "if you can afford to do the research then you should be able to afford to pay to publish it" is exactly my point.

Research is based so much on money and quantity now that ideas and quality are almost irrelevant.

But apparently the same could be said for comments like yours.

5 Comments:

At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Noah Gray said...

Well, then it sounds like you are getting what you need out of this blogging situation and in some fashion, it provides you with what you can't/won't do in real life. Therefore, it is useful.

It is definitely not for me, but it seems to work for you, and I can appreciate that. Things can change, and who knows...

 
At 7:38 PM, Anonymous JR said...

Dictionary.com

Main Entry: blog

Part of Speech: n

Definition: an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog, Web log

Example: Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author.


Seems pretty simple to me.

 
At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My $.02: please don't ditch the blog! Even though we don't comment as much as we should, there are lots of us who read, and sympathize, and rant right along with you - those of us who are just too damn lazy (or scared) to blog for ourselves!

A non-anonymous blog would be a tad risky, but perhaps also a potential boon to a future career. You never know who's reading and/or fwding posts to other people who might have openings for smart, bold researchers...

 
At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Research is based so much on money and quantity now that ideas and quality are almost irrelevant."

I don't really understand this point, but it occurs to me that maybe the problem is not your lab, per se, but your field. Again it's hard to know where you are and what you do, but when I read what you're saying and pass it through the lens of my experience, it makes no sense. In my little subfield of biomedical science, ideas are incredibly important and drive a lot of the research. Yes, money is important, too-salaries and equipment and supplies aren't free, but an investigator with a single NIH grant and a small lab can manage to get some stuff done, and can manage to validate good ideas with good experiments. I can't compete with the big labs in terms of my productivity, but I still manage to get by, and I think (I only know what people tell me) I am seen as someone with good ideas. I often make the mistake that this is just how science works, but every now and then I talk to a colleague in a different subfield and I realize that things don't always work so.

Not that you asked, but my advice would be to try to figure out, by talking to people, whether your field is reflective of all biomedical science or is a particularly bad one. If the latter, think about changing fields. If you don't want to, and I can understand that if you really love the work and find it important, you may not want to, then understand that you are making choices about what you will put up with.

 
At 1:37 PM, Blogger Drugmonkey said...

 

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