The big rush
A while ago I had an idea, a “big idea,” but the second I had that idea the clock was ticking. Because ideas are not that unique. There is a gap in research and we try to fill that gap when we see it. I noticed a gap and because I noticed it, there’s no reason others won’t notice it as well. Now we’re in an unseen race to publish and there’s still some speed bumps in the way that are causing some issues. I’m hopeful we can get there first, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we had competition.
The thing about research is we’re always racing to be the first to do something, because IMPACT! It’s a horrible system where we literally earn points the more we publish and people notice us. We have total number of citations, h-index, and a whole lot of other things to consider. To help us on our quest to level up our research journals provide us with metrics to help us, impact factor for one tells me how many times I could (on average) expect to be cited if I publish something in that perspective journal.
It’s a horrible system where you need to have a high score or you get ignored by funding agencies, jobs, and just about everything else that you could want in your research career. My score is low, which is not uncommon for an early career researcher, but it also is expected to be higher. So far I’ve published two papers in the last six months or so with one more coming out soon (here), so I’ve made strides to correct this, but even still there is a delay between publishing and being cited.
Ideally this year will be a good year for my made up score that defines who I am and my value as a researcher. A good way to make a big splash is to do some novel work and the two projects I’ve come up with are incredibly novel, both “super secret technique” (SST) and “big idea” (BI) will (in my mind anyway) get people interested in who I am. I wouldn’t call them groundbreaking or life changing, but they both stand to change the way we do things in a very narrow subset (spinal cord injury, prosthetics, brain-machine interfaces, things like that).
Which is huge for me, but I’m not the one who gets to decide, it’s other researchers. The problem is being the first to something. Why am I talking about big idea and not SST? Well, so far I’ve found two instances of researchers doing something very close to BI, one of them I stumbled upon yesterday and it was even closer than the previous instance. So close it makes me nervous that we’re not doing anything on that front yet! They are very close to something that I want to do that I am
I have a few things working in my favor, BI has been my baby for a long time now, but it only was recently fully formed when I came up with the one thing that would make it work. So I know better than most how to deal with the data coming from it. I’ve already read through the two examples and both are not great.
Frankly, I have a better way of doing it and I’m excited to try my hand at it, but that won’t happen until the hospital approves our IRB for the project, which should be occurring soon?! I hope, I’ve already had one false alarm for the data collection (here), but I’m hopeful that we’ll get approval shortly. We also have better resources than the other two examples, plus they were more proof of concept and mine is definitely not.
With two papers that are somewhat close, I don’t know that I have a lot of time to get to the publishing phase of things. The problem with not being the first is that someone else will be known for what I’m trying to do. I’m not looking to be famous or anything, but in a world that judges me by my completely arbitrary number, I would like to have something a bit higher than I do now. That way, when the time comes for me to be a PI, I will be able to help people better.