Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Evolution of a project.

1. Pilot experiments

Expectations: none

Interpretation: Oh my god, did it actually work?

2. Repetition

Expectations: I hope it works

Interpretation: Was the result of the pilot just an artifact? Maybe I just fucked it up. I should try it again.

3. Reproducibility

Expectations: This better fucking work, and it better be publication-quality

Interpretation: This would have fucking worked if someone else in the lab hadn't used up something I needed, and I didn't know until the last step on a Friday night and I can't order more until next week. FUCK. Well that's another week of my life I'll never get back.

4. Drafting the paper

Expectations: This is fucking cool! Everyone will love it!

Interpretation: Wait until they see my amazing contribution. It was totally worth all the hard work.

5. Waiting for advisor to read the draft

Expectations: Can't be much longer now. I'm next in line after only 2 other manuscripts.

Interpretation: Everyone has to wait, I should just be patient. I am so far ahead with this work, I don't even need to worry about getting scooped.

6. Waiting for advisor to read the draft part 2

Expectations: This is taking longer than I hoped.

Interpretation: I should revise a little more while I'm waiting. And add those other experiments I did while I was waiting. It's getting better so it's just as well that nobody read the first five drafts I gave them.

7. Writing with advisor.

Expectations: Give and take, right? A meeting of the minds?

Interpretation: Advisors always think they are great writers, but they rarely are. And yet, I will have to pick my battles. And this is taking longer than I hoped.

8. Submitting the paper.

Expectations: It might get rejected right away. Then we'll know in a week. It might get reviewed and then rejected. Then we'll know in a month. If it takes longer than that, it's buried on someone's desk and they forgot about it. We'll call if we don't hear anything in a month.

Interpretation: Who the fuck knows what will happen. This is the part where we pray, even if we don't believe in God.

9. Waiting to hear back.

Expectations: It will probably get rejected one way or another. Will probably have to do more experiments.

Interpretations: Quick! Do all those personal errands you put off while you were writing, before it gets rejected!

10. Getting the reviews.

Expectations: This is going to suck. Nobody likes being criticized.

Interpretation: Have low expectations, and you'll always be pleasantly surprised.

11. Revise.

Expectations: I'm going to get this done quick, before I'm sick of this project.

Interpretation: This is par for the course, but the end is in sight.

12. Resubmit.

Expectations: I will be sick of this project before we finish revising.

Interpretation: I need a vacation when this paper is accepted.

13. Repeat steps 5-12 at least once, maybe twice.

Expectations: None. I am already sick of this project. I might get scooped.

Interpretation: I'm not getting that vacation anytime soon. Everyone is wondering why it's not published yet. I must be a total loser. And I am so fucking mad at my advisor.

14. Accepted for publication.

Expectations: I was thoroughly sick of this project months ago. It's old news.

Interpretation: This is totally anticlimactic. I thought it would get into a better journal, or at least get into this journal a whole lot easier. Why did I think I'd be excited when it finally got published? Maybe I'll be excited when I see it in print.

15. Print copies arrive.

Expectations: This will mean nothing to me. I am dead inside.

Interpretation: Huh. My name looks pretty good there up at the top. And the figures look nice. I guess we did a pretty good job. I hope somebody reads it. Maybe I should go look myself up on Pubmed again.

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At 7:57 PM, Anonymous NeuroPostdoc said...

I love that! It's so perfect...I'm currently at the interpretation part of step 9 and enjoying it. It is certainly better than step 13 (where I spent most of my grad school career)

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde said...

Haha! This is the awesome. I don't think you missed a thing....right down to the anticlimax because you're so bored of your own old story by the end.

At 5:21 AM, Blogger Candid Engineer said...

Interpretation: Have low expectations, and you'll always be pleasantly surprised.

Ha, this is the trick. Nothing like feeling bad about yourself when your reviews come in. I recently got my referee comments back on an invited review article. I could not believe the difference between these and my normal manuscript reviews- talk about ass-kissing! It was actually a little sickening.

Regarding getting the proofs back- I always feel excited at this point, no matter how long the wait. I just think it's so gratifying to see a nice story succinctly laid out in journal format.

At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmm... congratulations on your paper?

At 5:18 PM, Blogger quietandsmalladventures said...

ok that was pretty priceless! i'm in the it was reviewed and needed more experiments/resubmit multi-month interim. luckily, i'm done with my part and my collaborators and old advisor have the rewriting to do. but wow, it still sucks! been waiting to hear we're getting this manuscript published since march!

At 10:13 AM, Blogger GirlPostdoc said...

Hey Ms PhD

I was wondering, if you are enjoy reading my blog, if you wouldn't mind posting a link from your website? Cheers, GirlPostdoc

At 3:16 PM, Blogger Moose withthoughtslikemine said...

Ha! I'm afraid to submit papers now. Maybe I just wont do it. Take that scientific community!

At 12:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interpretation: Who the fuck knows what will happen. This is the part where we pray, even if we don't believe in God.

Lately I've wanted to pray about a few things, but I have no god to pray to. Damn it! :)

At 5:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I am at step 12 now... and you are so awesome, you ve written out something I deeply felt inside, esp the losing feeling when the whole thing has been rejected and a rebuttal is needed. Thank you for telling the truth, and as first year PhD student (aka knows nothing, fresh), I finally found I am neither abnormal nor alone.

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous falliturvisus said...

Oh, I needed that! Thank you. I particularly liked "I'm dead inside".

At 11:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I totally understand. The problem is always caused by someone else ... never by me.

At 9:31 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Anon- I wish.

girlpostdoc- at the risk of saying you're pushy, I was thinking about doing that, so you didn't need to ask. But you know what? I'm kind of busy. I usually link to blogs when I have time and several that I want to add at once.

At 7:51 PM, Blogger GirlPostdoc said...

I'm Sorry Ms PhD. I didn't mean to come across as pushy. I wasn't sure what the etiquette is with these sort of things. I guess I was just hoping to get some discussion on the issues I've raise on my blog. Since I've discovered the blogosphere, I've found several different blogs that are really cool and helpful at sorting out issues. I totally understand about being busy. Geez, I'm really sorry.


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