We're a little crazy, about science!

The final push of “last paper”

Amid all the chaos that the lab visitor we had yesterday caused I wouldn’t blame the causal reader if you thought that the robot project was my only focus. Hospital-PI summed it up best when he said we’re all working on roughly four projects at any given time and I responded with, “you guys are only working on four?” Don’t get me wrong, I like it this way.

I do my best work bouncing around between projects because it gives me fresh eyes for whatever thing I’m trying to tackle. Unless I’m writing code, which if I step away for more than an hour, my code suddenly reads like someone broke into my home and wrote shitty code for me. I discovered this effect my last year of undergrad when I found I did better on written tests (which I am a notoriously bad test taker, meaning undergrad was hell), when I switched between the test problems. Sadly I only had the last year of undergrad to enjoy that discovery.

Since making that realization, I’ve bounced between projects whenever I feel like something I’m working on is going from mediocre to crap. With the robot I didn’t get much of a choice, it was power through, but I still worked on other projects, and between soldering and rewiring I’ve made the final push to finish the “last paper.” For those who don’t know last paper, it’s what I’m calling the paper I got an award for (more here). With robot paper in review, it’s literally the last paper I had in my pseudo journal paper block, which amounted to four journal papers all backing up on me for over a year. Seriously, I felt like I was hoarding all the science.

Last paper is a project I wasn’t thrilled about doing (I think I use that phrase anytime I talk about it honestly), but I learned a lot and did some really cool things that impressed the lab and school-PI a lot. The paper has been languishing because school-PI and hospital-PI have differences of opinion on things I’ve been doing. After a whole hell of a lot of back and forth, I think we’ve finally neared the end (this sounds familiar, I think I’ve said something similar before… oh no).

This time is different (he said as if he really believed it) because hospital-PI said his last comments were so minior he would’ve said just send it off once I made the changes. Or at least he would’ve said that if it weren’t for a figure that has been the bane of my existence. For months now the paper has been held up by this damned figure and what it shows. It’s not the way the data are shown, it’s what the data shows that has been the issue. You’ll all get the chance to see what I mean soon (I hope), when it’s published.

Hospital-PI has asked me to make modifications to the figure, which I will do, but it’s not as simple as he may think. This will make for a long weekend just to do something that is minor, but if it means there will be no further changes, then so be it. Once this happens, I’m hopeful that he will give his approval and we can submit it for publication. I’m fairly certain school-PI will sign off on the changes and we can get to the fun part where I get to enjoy reviewers yelling at me for changes (kidding… sort of).

With a little luck the next update for last paper will be that it’s in review. If that doesn’t come soon though, I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself. There’s still a lot of work planned and with all the other things going on I need to get this off my plate to make room for all the new work I literally made for myself (why I do that, I will never understand).

When I dreamt of becoming a scientist as a child, I thought it would be more creating giant robots to fight alien invaders and less paperwork. Saturday morning cartoons gave me unrealistic job expectations.


2 responses

  1. “… more creating giant robots to fight alien invaders and less paperwork”

    I feel ya. This is one reason why I have the hobby projects: it’s nice to be able to just do things without getting anyone else’s buy-in, or working to anyone else’s (sometimes unreasonable) expectations.

    In my particular job, the paperwork is almost not as bad as I was expecting. I’ve heard horror stories, though. One contractor told me about a company where … I think he was required to write a document which detailed a plan for how he would write another document! He hated it and got out of there when he could.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 11, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    • Great point, I enjoy a few hobby projects, nothing as cool as what you’re up to, but still. If only hobby projects came with funding.

      For me it’s not so much documenting things, it’s all the paper writing and publishing. In research you can do all the cool and fun things you want, but you have to tell people about it. Unfortunately blogging about it doesn’t count!

      I died laughing when I read document on how to write a document. That sounds like a fun way to spend your time. But… what about a document detailing how to write documents about other documents? Luckily, he escaped before that happened.

      Liked by 1 person

      February 12, 2022 at 11:12 am

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