Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The ever-elusive carrot

My graduate advisor is a classic carrot-dangler. Unfortunately, it takes forever to get her carrots and when you do, you are so irritated and annoyed that you don't even care about the stupid carrot, instead you want to jump up and down on the carrot or shove the carrot into a dark orifice not located on your own body.
In this case, the carrot is a publication. I believe my graduate advisor means well, but two things typically go wrong on her part and one thing goes wrong on my part. For her, the two problems, usually, are (1) a complete inability to manage her time, ultimately leading to missed deadlines (we're talking months here not days) and (2) an unwillingness to learn from past mistakes and avoid them. My problem boils down to one thing; I continually fall for her claims that things will go differently, resulting in unnecessary frustration and sometimes, homicidal rage.
Let's take the current paper-writing efforts grad advisor and I are making. We started this paper in May or June and she was adamant, adamant I tell you, that we submit it within months. Deep down I knew this was never, ever, EVER going to happen. Why? Because the last two papers I wrote with this person took over 1.5 years to complete. Not 1.5 years until publication, 1.5 years until submission. Not surprisingly, I received her corrections in September. "Fuck this shit," I thought to myself. I put the paper aside, but for good reason.
At the time, I was knee-deep in expressing proteins and getting very close to finishing up a few major experiments for a paper in post-doc lab. I know how paper-writing goes in post-doc lab and suffice it to say, that I could finish data for this paper, write the paper, submit the paper and get the paper published (with time for revisions) before my paper with grad advisor was even remotely close to getting finished.
October rolls around and I get an impatient email from grad advisor, asking for my revisions. She claimed she had all this free time for writing and really wanted to get the paper submitted before the end of the year. She really thinks this can happen if I just send my revisions. So, I send her my revisions the following Monday and guess what, I haven't heard jack shit. It's DECEMBER! Um, that's pretty much the end of the year according to my calendar.
I don't really care anymore that writing with this woman occurs at a glacial pace, but it infuriates me to get rushed along with the promise of reward when nothing happens. Hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait. What's worse is that I fucking fall for it. Mark my words, this paper won't see the journal submission page before this time next year. In the mean time, I'll write, submit, revise and publish a paper from post-doc lab (barring any horrible issues arising).
Damn it! I'm all in a huff about this.

6 comments:

EcoGeoFemme said...

I can SO relate.

I think it makes the process that much more difficult too, because both of you lose track of what was going on with the paper over such long intervals. She'll get comments back to you, and you'll have to spend some time just figuring out what you changed and why. Boo.

Thomas Joseph said...

I JUST heard back that a paper I wrote from graduate school (I graduated in 2005) was accepted. I feel your pain.

microbiologist xx said...

EGF - you're right. The fact that I don't even work on that project or in that lab just compounds the situation.

TJ - 2005...wow. In addition to the current paper I have one more left from grad. lab. I won't be surprised it it's at least 3 years from now when that thing goes out. On the plus side, I am glad that your paper didn't just get shoved on a shelf and forgotten about.

tideliar said...

I bumped into a Faculty chum of mine the other day. She is submitting, finally, from her grad work 8 years ago. She has taken the liberty of removing all references to her previous lab and is publishing it independently...

tideliar said...

And for what it's worth, I graduated 6 years ago and I got dropped from a couple of papers they took so long to get out. Except it's my work...

:(

microbiologist xx said...

TL - That sucks some serious ass. I can't believe your work is being used, but your not on the paper. I know a lot of times peoples work gets shelved for a while and then when someone picks it up, they end up building on the work and rewriting the paper which ends up resulting in the original first author getting bumped to middle, but not getting on the paper at all is just wrong.

I am thankful that my stuff will get out. It's just going to take a few years.