We're a little crazy, about science!

Paper juggling

With one paper officially off my plate and another in limbo (not sure what’s going on with that one!) I have two papers that need my attention and they need it NOW! Both papers need to be finished ASAP and one of them in particular needs to get done faster than that, as in today if possible. That’s going to be hard, but since I work better with a plan I figure we can get into how and why I’m forced to work on so many papers!

I have to admit, if I can pull this off in a reasonable amount of time, my publication count as a student will look pretty good. Right now it looks like total garbage, I haven’t published a single thing since I started my PhD, partly because of the pandemic, partly because of the shift my my education (mechanical engineering to neuroengineering), and partly because I had no idea what I was doing (hint: I never know what the heck I’m doing). However, this is a publish or perish system and I was certainly not publishing so that tells you everything you need to know about how the system thinks I’m doing.

Never fear though, I’ve got one paper (here) accepted for publication! So one down three to go and as I mentioned one of those papers is on hold since I have not heard anything from my former PI. That leaves a still not very manageable two papers for me to work on. The most important of the two is the one I need to have done today, because I’m me and told my Co-PI that I would probably be able to get it done by tonight. Why yes, yes, I am in idiot thanks for reminding me.

That paper has been super interesting and we found a whole lot of cool stuff. It’s the paper I could not say no to (really) and is unfortunately the most complex of the papers I’m working on (in my opinion anyway). There are a lot of subtleties that needed to be teased out and addressed properly. So far it’s coming out great, but we’re on a deadline that came and went so we need to get this done ASAP, plus my Co-PI is getting burnt out working on it, so we really need to finish and shift gears to some new project, which we’re sort of in the process of doing now. Basically I really need to get this paper finished and passed off. I’m probably not going to be done with it though…

The catch is since my giant desktop computer is down for the count (I’m scared to even turn it on at this point since it boots to ~65 degrees celcius right out of the gate), I’m left with my laptop (more on the computer problems here). I’m thankful I have both a desktop and a laptop, don’t get me wrong, but the laptop just can’t do half of what the PC can do. Basically it’s slowing me down a considerable amount. There’s just no using it for a long period of time without risking the CPU and I really don’t want to have to spend money on a new CPU, especially since that one cost quite a bit already.

My plan today is to finish writing the paper itself, then I need to modify some of the figures in the paper. Nothing major, just some minor changes that need to be addressed or things that need to be highlighted. If all goes well, I’ll finish the writing, send it off to my Co-PI with a note that the figures still need some work and let him review the paper. That will give me time to address the figures and make the changes without slowing things down. I’ve given this a lot of thought as you may have guessed by now.That should (hopefully) take care of that. There’s a lot of writing left that needs to happen for that paper and I’m not 100% sure that I’ll be able to do it all.

The second paper is even more tricky. That paper requires the giant PC of mine to be working properly because some of the things I need to finish for that paper are incredibly computationally heavy. The computer has 128 GB of ram and uses every last bit of it on occasion to finish some of the processing that needs to happen. The good news is all of the stuff that needs to be finished for that paper are for the supplementary materials. The paper itself is written and everything for the paper itself has been created.

Right now the paper was sent off to my co-authors for review and suggested edits. I’m sure there will be several of them and it will be a lot of work… once I get the suggestions back! That means as of right now there’s no real rush to get things done. I can’t proceed with anything until my co-authors get the paper back to me. That could be upwards of several weeks to a month. I’ve already talked with my Co-PI about it and he said he could get the edits back to me within the month.

That timeframe will ideally give me enough time to get the parts for my computer in, make the modifications, and get it up and running again. Then I can get the supplementary materials finished without too much of a headache and everyone will live happily ever after… right. Since the parts won’t be here for another week or so at least, I need to cross my fingers and hope that most of the co-authors are super busy so I don’t have to rush anything or worse, we’re waiting on me to submit the paper. The supplementary materials need to be finished at the time of submission, so there’s no way around it.

And that’s the story of how I’m currently trying to juggle these two papers. I’m stressing out about the entire thing of course, but remain hopeful that I can accomplish most/all of the things that need to get done. The first paper I can mostly do on the laptop without too much of a headache so that was good news for me. While I would’ve preferred the computer to break on me AFTER both papers were submitted, I guess I’m just thankful that it didn’t happen sooner. The parts for the computer are coming though, the bulk of what I need shipped and should be here in about a week if all goes will, it needs to get through customs so that takes time, but once they arrive I should be able to install everything with a few days worth of work.

Of course you’ll get to see step by step how I do it and how I screw things up, but it will be fun and I don’t like keeping knowledge, or failures, to myself. Now if you’ll excuse me, I should get to writing some science!


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