We're a little crazy, about science!

Back in the OR!

Well we finally got approval to head back to the OR. We were having some issues with our sample size, as in we hit the max for our protocol, but after a little bit of work we’re going back! The good news is that this doesn’t just affect the project I’m working on, this means I can move forward with the other project I’ve been dying to start.

While this post is about going back into the OR and the fact that for the last month I haven’t had a reason to think about the project, much less prep for it, I also am excited about what this means for my own little project, “big idea” has been on hold while we modify this IRB so now that we have it approved we can work on getting approval for big idea. Meaning that not only do I get to do some fun (if not exhausting) OR experiments, I also have the chance to do something brand new!

So first on the OR side of things. Those experiments have been going on for awhile now and we’re getting better and doing them thankfully. They are long and I would say exhausting, but that’s probably an understatement. While the first handful were a hot mess, the last few were starting to show improvement as we’ve refined our techniques and got the dance down with the clinical staff. It’s been hard fought and we’ve had mixed results, but overall it’s been good.

That is until back in December, when we realized we were at the max enrollment for the study. That should’ve been easy enough to work around, but it turns out that wasn’t the case. There were a few roadblocks along the way, paperwork that needed to be filed, certifications that needed updating, that held up the process for this and any other IRB we could want. Now that this is resolved we’re going back into the OR soon. Which means we’ll probably be a bit rusty, but I’m hopeful that it’s like riding a bike and it will come back quickly. If not then the next few experiments, whenever they come, will be yet another painful learning experience.

Since there were other issues not specific to this IRB, we needed to get everything done with that to make sure we could move forward with our other project, “big idea.” I’m excited to start that project and while we need to get some things worked out with our newest collaborator, I’m excited and cannot wait to move forward with this!

That project alone will be a monumental challenge and I’ve set myself up for a very hard year whenever we get the data (the sooner the better). It doesn’t help that me and my big mouth has suggested we publish big idea in Nature, one of the top scientific journals. Which is currently embroiled in a lot of controversy about their open access policy, because they want to charge an obscene amount of money for the open access option, in the order of ~$11,000 and no that’s not a typo (more here).

So with the target journal picked and the experiment mostly laid out, we just need to collect the data and hope everything goes according to plan. To be clear big idea is a giant leap, hence the big in “big idea,” but giant leaps also mean a higher risk for failure. Overall the project is high risk, high reward and will force me to learn a whole lot of new skills. This also assumes we actually find something worth publishing, which is a fear that keeps me up at night, but nothing ventured, nothing gained I guess.

While I’m happy that we’re headed back into the OR and things are slowly moving forward, I’m also just a bit anxious to see what this year holds. Last year, objectively speaking, went better than I had planned. Who knows, this could be a good year for me too. I guess we’ll have to wait and see, as usual.

2 responses

  1. Does choosing the journal up front affect anything about how you do the work … are there specific things that Nature, for instance, is likely to want?

    Liked by 1 person

    February 14, 2022 at 3:29 pm

    • It changes how we work somewhat, each journal has their own format and the way they like things. The reason this particular choice is so challenging is because everyone wants to publish in Nature so the rejection rate is pretty high. I’m hopeful that “big idea” will be enough to clear the bar, but really we won’t know until we start doing the experiments. My hope is that my skills are up to the data processing challenge big idea will create.

      The figures are another aspect that is important for a Nature caliber paper. I can definitely improve them when compared to my past papers, on top of all the new stuff we’re doing,

      Liked by 1 person

      February 15, 2022 at 3:06 pm

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