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Another deadline rush

Why is it always a rush?! I wish I had answers, maybe as scientists we just like to procrastinate, but whatever the reason, we have a huge deadline just five days away and it feels almost insurmountable. As hospital-PI puts it, I have 12 hour nights I can get it done, he’s kidding… I hope. It’s time to break out the hard stuff, caffeine that is, and get ready for the week ahead.

I’m 100% positive I’ve talked about how we’re always in a perpetual rush to a deadline. One gets finished and two more pop up. It’s scary to imagine, but the truth is you get used to it after awhile and you don’t even notice it until things like this happen. We have a major deadline that we need to meet and I thought I had done enough to help mitigate the rush, but after hospital-PI emailed me yesterday telling me that wasn’ t the case, well let’s just say I’m glad I took care of the computer stuff yesterday.

Technically speaking the deadline had come and gone, but hospital-PI applied for an extension, which gave us two weeks. Between now and Friday however we need to have a whole paper written and a presentation made for the group funding the project. I started writing the paper last week and I thought the figures and paper itself were a good start.

I was 94.76% sure the figures were done and ready, but yesterday hospital-PI let me know that there were some “orange flags” as he put it. Basically I didn’t show all the data he wanted to see in the figures, so I’ll need to go back and add them in. Not the end of the world, but certainly not a great way to spend the next few days. Figures are time consuming endeavors, so making large modifications to them can take upwards of days. Then there’s the statistics I’ll need to run for the new data, which requires me to reformat the data and write some code. All of which takes time, lots of time.

Since this is a hard deadline, the response for “last paper,” which is due in about a month (more), is being sidelined in favor of working out all the stuff for this project. We also need to get the response for last paper in before the deadline or it will be treated as a new submission and we don’t want that, we want to go right to publication after the least number of reviews as possible. The fact they only gave us a month means we’re close to being published, so that’s good news on that front.

The bad news is the first draft for this project isn’t good. It’s the first draft so it’s going to be bad, but I was sincerely hoping that it was closer to being done than not. At the very least it’s written and that means making changes should be easier than writing the whole thing from scratch, but it also means that I will need to set time aside to work on it. We already have out target journal selected, so with a little luck my third first author paper of the year (fifth paper I’m an author on … wow! That’s a lot for me.) will be submitted this week for review.

That’s assuming we can make the deadline, which we absolutely HAVE to meet. There’s no other way, failure is not an option! Now normally I would be working on this project over the weekend to help take off some of the workload during the week, but I’m going to try to relax a bit in anticipation of the stressful week ahead. I knew this was coming, I just hoped we would be more prepared than we are. I also had a bunch of “extra” things I wanted to accomplish for this deadline, but I’m not sure that will happen now with the deadline around the corner.

Hospital-PI will need to present the results to the funding group on Friday I believe, or at the very least he will need to send it to them for review and give a presentation at a later date, I believe it’s the former and not the later, but I’ll know tomorrow because we’ve agreed to meet first thing in the morning to discuss the project and how to hit our deadline.

Since I already know what needs to go into one of the four figures we’re making, I am trying to fight off the urge to get started on it. It’s very tempting to just go for it, but I think I will take hospital-PI’s advice and just relax for the day. It’s hard working in a lab when we’re understaffed like we are, but it’s good for me in the sense that I can get a lot of publications early on in my career when people expect a lot because as a “student” what else would I be doing? Now if only my number of citations reflected all the work I’ve done… Don’t mind me just complaining.

That’s the life of a student and a researcher I guess, always busy, always rushing to hit the deadlines. Some of those deadlines are self imposed and I’ve done that for my work as well. I mean I do want to graduate in a year and that’s very much a self imposed deadline. I’m hopeful that with our lab expansion and hiring new people (we’re looking for postdocs if anyone is interested!) my workload will turn into something more manageable, or at least the flow won’t be so rushed.

That’s the dream anyway. With that, it’s time for some serious work relaxing.


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