Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Like I can say no

About a week ago Magnum, PI approached me in the lab and we conversed breifly. It was one of those situations that left me feeling both good and bad and it went something like this:

Magnum PI: Microbiologist XX!! How are things going?
MXX: Pretty good. I am in the final stages of purifying proteins and am on track to provide you with data from said proteins next week...
Mind of MXX: yeah, if nothing goes wrong.
Magnum PI: That is great. 

...silence...[play sound of crickets chirping]

Mind of MXX: Why is he still standing here?
MXX: Is there something else you want to discuss with me?
Magnum PI: Well, since you asked...I am currently writing a grant and I want to include the project you are working on. I take it you are up to speed on the literature?
MXX: Yes!
Mind of MXX: No!

Magnum PI: Then I am going to lean heavily on you to help me with that portion of the grant. 
MXX: OK. Not a problem.
Mind of MXX: This should be good. 

Magnum PI: Also, you are the strongest writer in the lab, so I want you to edit the grant and turn it into English.
MXX: For the part that pertains to me or for all of it?
Magnum PI: All of it needs to be turned into English.
Mind of MXX: Of course it does. 

MXX: OK. I can do that.
Magnum, PI: That's what I wanted to hear!!
Mind of MXX: No kidding. 

...Magnum PI walks starts to walk away and then stops...

Mind of MXX: Why in gods name did he stop moving away? Don't turn around, don't turn around...FUCK! He's turning around.

Magnum PI: Did I mention that I write everything on paper?
MXX: No
Mind of MXX: Fucking, fuckity, fuck, fuck. 

[Manum PI starts walking away]

MXX: Can I use a red marker for the corrections? 
Magnum PI: Turns back, laughs, walks away.
Mind of MXX: Let's take that as a YES!! 

Let's break it down:
The positives: 
Boss trusts me to help him write a portion of his grant.
Boss knows my writing and editing skills are far superior to his own.
I'll gain more experience with grant writing. 

The negatives:
You just guaranteed yourself a marathon of paper reading to get "up to speed." 
You already have a shit-ton of work to do with the other lab projects, your pet project and the unfinished work from grad. school lab that you will probably be doing by yourself.

The worst negative:
You are going to edit a hand-written grant. wtf? WTF? 

7 comments:

post-doc said...

I would have replied in the same manner. And felt the exact same way. Please make sure you're listed as a co-investigator so that you can list this effort on your CV.

(Honestly, the only part that really bugs me is the handwritten part. Magnum needs to hire someone to type or handle that himself. I know that when I write something out, it's usually in bits and pieces of ideas rather than complete thoughts or sentences. Grumble, grumble.)

Ambivalent Academic said...

Magnum PI needs to hire a personal assistant to type that shit before he hands it to you to "turn it into English". Seriously.

It is awesome that he trusts you with it (MXX FTW!), but it also smacks of "get the girl to do it, cause they're good at that secretarial stuff". I'm not saying that's necessarily him, and even if that played into it, it certainly doesn't devalue your intellectual contribution.

However, transcribing his chicken scratch is NOT the same as editing. It is a HUGE time-suck and it is NOT your job. Your job is to do science, not act as his secretary. Intellectual contribution = good. Editing for English = well, somebody's gotta do it. Transcribing hand-written notes into something that looks like a grant = clerical work.

On the other hand, I don't have any suggestions whatsoever on how to tell him this. Sorry.

chall said...

wow. that is a new one for me.... the hand writing the grant that is.

I would have responded the same way. even the head thoughts ;)

good luck and don't kill yourself trying to read up on papers. If you are not included in the grant with a name, it is your PIs main responsiblilty....

microbiologist xx said...

post-doc - I agree. Reading a hand-written grant is the suckiest part by far.

AA - Oh hell no. I WILL NOT be transcribing his grant. I will edit it, mark all over it and make it English but I am not typing that shit into the computer.
He has two admin. assistants and I am hoping that it is typed in (by one of them) before I have to edit it, but I have no idea what the order of events will be. I have no idea what his handwriting looks like. eek.

chall - Thanks. I am glad I am not the only one. :) The handwriting a grant was new to me too. I'm sure when he told me that little piece of info. a look of horror spread over my face.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Hand written??!! That is some crazy shit... any time a PI gives me anything handwritten (usually edits written on a print-out, NOT an actual grant), I have to go back and check what about 30% of it says...

Good luck... if the handwriting is legible this really will be great experience!

EcoGeoFemme said...

I second AA and the others. Awesome! And...not.

Good luck.

Dimitris said...

Magnum PI, I like the alias cool LOL. But seriously, just be careful. I would have done the same thing I actually did when PI Famous asked me to do so. Thank god he knows how to use word! just make sure you do not become his personal assistant putting together notes into a grant... Your science and future comes first. You will gain valuable grant writing experience but not at the expense of your data.