Dating in Academia

Dating in Academia {New Faculty}

I’d like to spend a post talking about what it’s like dating as an academic. In case you don’t want to read all the way until the end, let me summarize this for you quickly: it’s quite awful.

If you care to keep reading, please do :)

Dating is tough, no matter what you do or where you live. All of the online stuff exposes you to more people, but doesn’t mean you get a “match” in most cases. I’ve done my fair share of dating and only a few have made it to what I like to call “the lightning round” or the “meet the parents” round. I know the research and statistics on marriage, divorce, and staying single. As someone who has been married, divorced, in long-term relationships, and now single, I can say this: it’s rough out there for anyone.

In the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d regale you with some quick stories from the field. You can call it research if you’d like. I decided to do what any living, breathing human would do: I asked my academic girlfriends to share their stories. I also included a few of my own.

Here we go:

“I went out with one guy. I told him I was a professor, where I’d gone to college, etc…. over coffee. The man excused himself to the bathroom, came out and said, “I’ve gotta go, I can’t do this, I knew you were smart, but Ivy league?” and left.”

“I went out for coffee with a guy who proceeded to tell me his philosophy on life and how his only goal was to just wait until he could retire. Not much there in the way of ambition or goals. When I told him about myself, his only comment was, “so, you really want to live a full and good life? that seems worthless.””

“A guy who said he was in the medical field (fine), but upon meeting him, he proceeded to tell me how he’d gotten let go due to “legal infractions” and was busy making sandwiches waiting to see if he got his “license” back. Liar, liar, pants on fire? Cannot deal with liars.”

“Didn’t even get to meet one man. He stalked, harassed, and then proceeded to send me no less than 19 messages one day in a row that went from “hey, how are you?” to “what the hell? why aren’t you answering me?” I had been on the phone taking a work call that lasted about 10 minutes. Slow your roll.”

I could do this for a few more rounds, but to spare you the details, I’ll summarize by saying this:

Academia is isolating and filled with nerds. I like nerds. I am a nerd. Dating is really hard though. As a female, I’m sure all the ladies out there can share and have similar stories to my four quick anecdotes above. It’s incredibly difficult to find a good man who understands what we do, why we’re workaholics, and still respects us after knowing that we went through massive amounts of training and education to get to the lower rungs of academia.

If you decide to date an academic know the following:

  • We’re usually highly self-motivated
  • We keep odd hours
  • We probably won’t be home waiting for you with a hot meal.
  • We’ll probably get home later than you and leave earlier so you better know how to get your own meals & be self sufficient.
  • We’re quite independent.
  • We’re used to rejection, so if it isn’t working out for you, just say so.
  • Work life balance is this thing we read about but rarely do.
  • We speak our own language. Learn some of ours if you plan on conversing and we’ll learn some of yours.
  • Grant deadlines are a thing that haunt our dreams and ruin our days.
  • So are submission deadlines.
  • We do love you. We want to be with you, but we get distracted by a deadline.
  • We’re faithful, loyal, and loving. We believe in our science the way we believe in our partnerships and will usually stick with both through the high’s and low’s. That’s saying a lot!

In short, dating in academia is pretty much as bad as it is in any field. Since you can’t fake chemistry, there’s likely to be a lot of frogs before you land anything close to prince charming.

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Empowering Others to Empower Ourselves

Empower Others to Empower Myself {New Faculty}

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I’m fool of feel good vibes and warm fuzzies up in here lately. I think it’s because I finally did all of my laundry and didn’t have to repack a suitcase within 72 hours of returning from a trip. Or it’s from the EIGHT solid hours of sleep I got last night. Whatever the reason, I’d like to talk about how we empower others and in return, we become empowered.

My prior work in STEM was really satisfying to me. It fit all of the niches of my brain and I’ll be honest here: I was pretty damn good at it. It had all of my favorite things (except melted cheese): teachers, kids, STEM, free education for those kids, free professional development for those teachers, paying those teachers, undergrad/grad research opportunities, a balanced spreadsheet (thank you) more than 90% of the time, and since I’m all warm and fuzzy today: it had me working with some of the best folks I know.

One of my many teachers bloomed from a math teacher to a bad-ass STEM guru. She really took off with the material we provided. She made it her own. She stumbled, she fell, but she always asked for help without feeling bad. And I was there to catch her. In return, she offered to return the favor whenever I asked, allowing me and my team into her school, into her life, and interrupting it more than we probably should have.

Yes, this was really that positive of a relationship. All those teachers and students loved me and I love them still.

I nominated this teacher for a prestigious math and science award last year. It’s so fancy she might win a trip to the White House, meet the president himself (hate him all you want, he’s still the guy in charge & you’d like to brag you met him too), and win a boatload of money for herself and her school. This teacher is so humble. She is so generous. She is so talented. But she forgot what a bad ass she is. She sent me a photo over the weekend of her receiving her STATE FINALIST award (what??) and said, “there were so many great teachers there, it was an honor.”

EXCUSE ME?

I replied, “you ARE one of those great teachers, don’t ever forget that!”

She replied, “you’re an angel.”

Little does she know that by spending time in her school, with her kids, and engrossed in her community, she empowered me.

You read that right: SHE EMPOWERS ME.

Every day.

Someone once asked me why I like doing what I do. It was a great question. My final answer:

“I like the underdog. I was born an underdog but I feel as though people invested in me every step of the way. When I invest in people and commit to them through research and building their capacity, I have yet to lose. I always win. When you invest in people, you will usually always win.”

Whether it’s supporting an amazing group of teachers, nurturing a struggling grad student, or taking time to listen to a trusted colleague, investing in people usually nets you more wins than losses.

I hope this teacher wins. Not just to hang a plaque on her wall, but to empower her. To show her what a great talent she is. To show her that she is one of the best educators in our country. To give her struggling county some of the recognition it deserves. To show that women can teach and raise our children, but in many cultures, they continue to be marginalized.

Every time I invest in people, I always win. I joke with my dad that the warm feelings won’t pay the electric bill, but I don’t need any heat today, I’m radiating sunshine for her and everything she represents.

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Taking the Time When You Need It

Taking Time When You Need It {New Faculty}

I’ll admit it: I sat by the pool and went swimming this afternoon while the grad student I brought with me is doing stats homework. Amount of guilt I feel: NONE. I did that time. I earned an hour of pool time to swim laps.

The grad student and I traveled together to a three day conference in sunny FL. I am more excited to bust out my sandals than to sit in three days of meetings (oops, i was honest) but honestly, anywhere warmer and nicer is welcome for me. The temp was 83 when we flew in, a slight breeze, and only moderate humidity. Um, hello FL, I love you in March.

Back to my point. I feel zero guilt at present. I did read an abstract that a student texted me about because it’s due and I wanted to view it, but other than that, zero work today. ZERO. Why? Because as much as I know there’s always more work to do, today I give myself permission to: fly, eat, swim, lounge watching the NCAA tourney, and whatever else I want. I might even take myself out for a cocktail later. I know we just came off spring break, I’m not an idiot, but I also know I will spend the next three days solid being “on” and my introvert personality is already coping with this fact. And by coping I mean “panicking” in case you were wondering.

Due to my nature of planning, I knew I had to plan in some down time for myself. The week was productive, fruitful, and busy as always but there was no down time built in. I did this to myself but also knew it would be a doozy of a week after break.

So, to make a long story short: I’m taking the time because I need it and you should too!

Listen to your inner monologue and respect it.

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Spring Break Meltdown: The Snow, Not Me

Spring Break Meltdown {New Faculty}

yeah, i took this pic!

Spring break sprung and I was struggling the week before. I was more than ready for a change of scenery, a change of pace, and a change in location for a few days. I’m missing ‘family vacation’ later this month due to a work trip, so I decided I’d go home and see my parents for a few days in good old, freezing as hell, upstate New York. I was warned, there was three feet of snow on the ground still and cold weather gear was a must.

I packed all the warm things I could, including the very nice winter boots I rarely wear down here because to me, it’s never really ‘that cold’ for long. We get ‘cold’ weather for a week or two, but nothing like the north. Anywho…I packed it and I shipped myself to the farm to see my parents, my dog, my friends, and my cows.

Don’t worry, I did a little work. But, the day before I was set to travel my mom texted me, “I have pneumonia.” Well, hello spring break. Not only have I gone farther north, but now I’m soup-making my way through it. Truth be told, I love cooking. I’ve never had a problem making meals for people and still haven’t mastered the art of “cooking for one” so it was perfectly ok that putting meals out was one of my tasks last week.

The snow was deep. Too deep for snowshoeing. Too deep to walk (ok, try) to walk through, and generally, it was cold. The weather was set for a warm up on Monday to help pack the snow down. I was set to conduct observations at a school that I’m doing research with so no love lost there on the weather.

All-in-all, it was a good spring break. I didn’t get a lot done. I made lots of meals, snowshoed almost every day with the dogs, poked around the barns, and generally enjoyed myself. I needed the respite. Even the 9+ hour drive each way was more tolerable thanks to a backlog of podcasts and audio books.

I share this with you not to brag (trust me, the to-do list did not dissipate during those four days), but to tell you that I knew I needed a break and it was the only way to get one. When I stay here in college town USA, I take small breaks, a day here, a day there, but rarely several days in a row. I think my brain still associates “work” with “this town” because I moved here to “work” years ago. It’s not a bad thing, but there’s nothing like physically vacating a space to also vacate some space in your brain.

Hopefully you were able to take a day or two off during your break as well. Even if you spent it doing things like making that meal you like, getting the oil changed in your car, being home for supper time with everyone, or whatever it was, I hope you took a moment to step back, reflect, and enjoy it.

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Investing in Yourself: Additional Training & Professional Development

Professional Development {New Faculty}

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I have taken full advantage of professional development since joining faculty. Even in my old position, there was very little I would say “no” to in terms of building and expanding my skill set. I know it can be a trap to say “yes” to too much, but when reflecting on it and strategically thinking about where I wanted to go professionally, I chose to take the attitude of “participate, don’t anticipate” and it’s paying off. I had always wanted to learn more about federal grants and sitting on panels for several years in a row really paid off. I had wanted to learn about how I could develop as a faculty and have been participating in a year long faculty development institute at my university. I was encouraged by my department head to get trained in KAI and recently finished training to facilitate KAI for organizations.

See the goal, make it happen.

Not all of the opportunities I’ve had cost me money, some have netted me some cash. I’ve had to agree to participate in research as a result, but I’m a researcher so I whole heartedly see why we need to do this. Building my own skill set has been a rewarding experience for me thus far in the young faculty member game and I’m glad that I said, “yes” several years ago to myself to get into these things. Each has been useful in a different way and each continues to serve me on many levels.

There’s a few things that I’ve had to work through to get myself developed professionally:

Buy in from my superiors. I have to say, I have an extremely supporting department head. I cannot say enough positive things about his attitude toward my development as a young faculty member. And no, I’m not saying that because this is on the internet. I’m saying it because it’s true. Hands down. He recently asked me during my annual review, “where do you want to go and how can we help you get there?” That kind of support is valued, appreciated, and amazing. I know that not all of my peers will have this kind of unwavering support and I’m grateful for it.

Support from my peers. My colleagues within the department and outside of it are more than supportive. Whether it’s filling on a class to guest lecture, excusing me from meetings knowing I’m doing this other “thing” or simply asking, “how did KAI go?” it means the world to know that they care enough to ask, cover, or excuse me. I’m not home watching TV, I’m working and I know I would reciprocate for them as well.

Time. In our society of “the busy contest” I don’t have any more or any less time than the next person. However, I give myself the gift of time to do these things. No matter what is getting in the way, I do my best to block my time and try to plan ahead. Life happens, but giving myself permission to spend four days reviewing grants or five days being trained or two hours on a day when grades are due getting some development is worth it later.

It’s a long-term investment. Sometimes, because I’m impatient, I have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. I get ahead of myself and then I forget that spending a year in a program won’t pay off tomorrow, it might take time to see the effect. I might teach a course next year where I implement what I learned. My ROI is slow on some of the things I do but it is there. I just have to be patient.

Money. Some of my development has been 100% free and evens comes with snacks. Faculty professional development on my campus is pretty good. A few hours each month, a little homework, and a lot of great relationships have been free to me. My department supports this venture. Other things, like trainings, have cost money that I was asked to attend and therefore paid. Research PD has paid me in the end. It has actually evened itself out financially. Sometimes you gotta front some cash, but you always get it back.

In the end, spending some time and resources on professional development can be 100% worth it. I have more positive things to say than negative things on my experiences thus far. There are times that I’m the worst student you ever met (they say teachers make the worst students) and have absolutely no patience to sit for another hour at something, but I’m finding that when my ass is numb, my brain is usually full of good stuff.

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I’m All Ears: Listening in Academia

I'm All Ears: Listening in Academia {New Faculty}

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People in academia like to talk. A lot. We like to hear ourselves talk. A lot. But sometimes we need to take a step back and listen. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Sometimes, we need to be smart enough to let our evolution take over.

I was stricken with a delightful head cold last week. Due to the amount of nose blowing I was doing, I wasn’t much for conversation. Mostly because it led to coughing and other delightful cold symptoms. I’d like to write a book about the “8236 stages of a cold” that will be due out for publication next year. Nothing like a good cold. And so much hand washing….

Amidst my mouth breathing and sudafed haze, I still kept my schedule. It was just a cold after all. It was a good reason to speak less and listen more. I was reminded of this several times throughout the week.

Chatting with grad students. While it’s our job to advise them, I know I can get mired in the business at hand: making progress. Not feeling 100% helped me sit back and let them drive the bus of their own learning. In between my coughs and nose blowing, students were able to work through their dissertation issues. Because I didn’t have much for a voice, I mostly nodded in agreement and let them keep talking.

Not talking gives other people permission to keep talking. Not talking makes some people super uncomfortable so they keep talking. Not talking and being with someone who fears silence is an excellent tactic in getting all of their secrets out. Just so you know.

Our department also hosted preview days. Potential grad students come in for a series of meetings and interviews spread out over the course of a few days. It’s a great opportunity to meet with potential students, listen to them discuss their future plans, and if our department might be a good fit for that. Along with this comes a lot of listening. Trying to gauge their interest, their maturity level, and their true motive for a graduate degree is a lesson. Paying attention to their body language is equally important.

Sitting back and listening can be a powerful medium. It gives the person you’re with the freedom to converse and it gives you the freedom to listen. No one feels obligated.

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Be Willing to be Mentored

Being Mentored {New Faculty}

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Being a grad student isn’t always glamorous. Sure, you get to do research and think about science (or fill in that blank appropriately) but sometimes, you’ve gotta walk that line and tow that mark.

Grad school is a great place to make mistakes, to learn, and to grow cognitively. In so many ways, school is for making mistakes. BUT, it’s also about learning from those mistakes. It’s about growth. It’s about becoming a better researcher. It’s about learning to become a better researcher from making mistakes. Righting the proverbial ship is of the utmost importance. You’re bound to make mistakes but how you handle yourself can make a world of difference.

Some have a harder time than others. Many students who come to a PhD program have worked before and are returning to school after years in the work world. Learning to be a student can be tough and boundaries can be hard to reign in, particularly for “adults” who’ve been out in the working world. I’ve heard of two cases as of late who caught my attention, but unfortunately for the wrong reasons.

My piece of sage advice for this week: Be willing to be mentored. 

I don’t know how else to spell it out. Saying  you’re willing and actually allowing the process to work are two totally different things. Assuming responsibility for your mistakes and your wins are both equally important. The relationships you make or don’t make with your faculty can mean everything and nothing very quickly. I’m not here to make anyone feel bad or to say that I didn’t make mistakes, but I think it’s cause for pause at this point to recognize that being mentored isn’t just about sitting down and listening to a senior faculty discuss theory.

It’s about putting those things into action.

I urge you to check in with yourself this week. Whether a grad student or young faculty, take a moment of pregnant pause to say, “how am i doing?” and if you have great pause about any of it, perhaps it’s time to take some notes. Being perfect isn’t the goal, but being better is. Checking in with yourself can avert crisis later on and set you up to be more successful. As our department welcomes in potential graduate students this week for interviews, it’s the number ONE piece of advice I’ll be giving to anyone who asks. Be willing and we will meet you halfway there.

 

Being the “New Guy”

Being the "New Guy" {New Faculty}

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Being a new faculty member is hard. It’s tiring. It wears you out and wears on you. I know. I’m there. I come home some days and don’t move from my couch except for food, the bathroom, or to move to my bed and that feels like work. I feel you.

I’d like to make a case for getting out  and working after hours, weekends, or getting to know your fellow faculty at social functions that are outside of work hours. I know it’s hard. Many of you will have families and other commitments, but I’m going to encourage you to give it the “old college” try a few times. Hear me out.

I never like making a habit of working on the weekends. However, in this position, I find that if I give myself a few hours on Sunday’s to clear out my inbox, settle my calendar, and get myself organized, I have a much smoother Monday morning ready to jump into whatever I got myself into. Truth.

The awesome part about this is that many of my colleagues like working on the weekends as well. Sunday’s will find many of us in our offices working along quietly playing the never ending game of catch up. Before you get all “misery must love company” on me, the weekends are great for catching up with colleagues. There’s fewer students milling around, there’s no class to rush off too and generally there’s no formal meetings on weekends. Each Sunday I’ve logged has been useful to me in terms of productivity, but it’s also had the added benefit of getting time to converse with my colleagues. We don’t always discuss work, but we do talk. And, as the newest faculty member in the department, I think it’s important to have those conversations to set some context.

For me, it’s valuable time spent. As a self-identified introvert, I don’t do as well in large groups, faculty meetings are too busy with business for any chit chat, and walking into another faculty member’s office to strike up a conversation isn’t my forte. In fact, the last one makes me downright uncomfortable. The weekend is when the feeling is a little less formal, standing around for a few minutes chatting helps me get to know my peers and them get to know me. I’m “work new faculty” at work. I have things to do and tasks to check off. I’m guilty of not wanting to socialize much and I have a calendar full of things as well. Formal business hours are not the hours you want to get to know me in to get a good picture of who I am.

I’ve been told many times that I’m a hard person to know. I acknowledge that. I think many academics are. We choose academia for the solitude of research sometimes and it feeds our tendencies. Being aware that I’m not the most open, charming, naturally extroverted human helps me work within the boundaries that have been set by my personality.

Our faculty tries to go out to happy hour too. I don’t always want to hit the bar with my colleagues on Friday, but I’ve gone each time it was organized and I felt as though it was valuable time spent. I’ve been able to cultivate talking points as I get to know my colleagues. We rarely discuss work specifically, students and work do come up, but it’s more tangential in nature and non-specific. Again, my personality comes out in these settings since I can speak to people in a more social setting without the fear of students or other hindrances.

Can it be awkward? Of course. Entering an established group of peers is always a little unnerving, but maximizing your personality potential and being self-aware enough to understand how you’re situated in a group can be important. I don’t come out and say how much I love research, but the spouse of my colleague saw me design a course at faculty development this spring. He observed me working for days on it, had conversations with me about the topic, and learned how much I love research and undergraduate students. Because of that positive interaction, my name was brought up to plan a possible undergrad research certificate in our college. That’s pretty exciting to me. I learned this at the bar. I solidified my ability to do this during a hallway conversation on a Sunday. Over half of my interaction about this had nothing to do with M-F from 9-5.

Being the new kid on the block can be tough. It’s hard to know where you fit in the group. It’s kind of like being the last kid picked in gym class in middle school. It’s taken me nine months to order business cards. It’s also taken me nine months to get to know the people I call colleagues better too. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither have my relationships with my peers.

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Office Politics: Low Drama, High Output

As a new faculty member, it can be tricky to navigate the professional and personal relationships in your department or unit or lab. You fill in that blank with whatever you’ve got. I didn’t get a feel for what was happening until my office moved to the same floor as my colleagues and I have observed some very interesting things. I’m not saying it’s all bad or all good, but there’s certainly a culture in the department among the faculty that I was unaware of.

I first noticed that there’s a segment of the faculty who are night owls. They work best from about 8 p.m. until last call per say. I’m not in that camp. They do it for a variety of reasons: kid schedules, partner schedules (or lack thereof & they can do what they want), or it’s their preferred time based on their circadian clocks for maximum work time with minimal interruptions from anyone. The night owls tend to be closer and go to each other first. I know lots of conversations probably take place that go beyond work and dive into personal stuff. It’s kind of like the old saying that “the majority of business takes place after hours (at a bar over drinks).” I stay once in a while past normal hours. One evening, I got caught talking with two of the night owls about research until about 8 p.m. Another evening, I came back after listening to a good talk about international development to research some points the speaker made and was in the office until 10 p.m. I slept like crap and was all messed up. I learned quickly that I’m not a night owl by nature and I’m better off getting up early to work.

Outside activities influence the social context. The biggest “outside activity” I can think of is church and there’s a small group of folks that go to the same church and are very social about things with each other only. I don’t get it. I don’t want to, but I also see how a great social network and community can form. I’m not against it. They’re always very friendly and they always invite me to church.

The people who all went to the same university. There’s a large contingent of the faculty in my department who all went to the same university for at least one of their degrees. That also includes me. In this field of work, there’s a few universities that have outstanding programs and my alma mater is one of them. I’m proud. Again, never over the top stuff, but it’s kind of fun to have a rivalry once in a while.

The weekend crew. I’m on the weekend crew. I usually come in for a few hours on Sunday afternoon’s to get ready for the week, map out my calendar, and take care of anything I’ve left from Friday. I avoided weekend time for several years in my old appointment, but started last fall due to teaching load and new responsibilities. The weekend crew is sparse on Sunday’s and we always say hello and chat for a few minutes. I try not to be too chatty on Sunday’s as I consider that “my time” and am very protective of it. One Sunday, I caught what I would consider to be a “very personal” conversation between two other faculty who are close and I actually turned on music so I didn’t have to listen to it. Unfortunately, they were next door to me, so it was hard to avoid in many ways, but I’ll be honest: Sunday is not social time for me. Sunday is “get crap done” for Monday time. I usually treat myself to a coffee from somewhere other than my house and go in for a few hours. I set myself a time to be done by and usually leave by then in order to enjoy the rest of my dat.

Other social factors influence navigating office politics in a big way. There is a culture in my department that is very student centered, very “low drama, high output” centered and I like it that way. These folks are like good neighbors and I appreciate their intellect and “good human” characteristics. There are times when I walk into a room or down the hallway and see colleagues having a discussion and I get the feeling I wasn’t supposed to “walk in” right then but on the flip side, perhaps they should have closed the door or not had the conversation in a public arena.

Plain and simple: there’s office politics. I think it’s unavoidable but you get to decide how you interact with them. I will admit, I have asked about some issues and educated myself. I try to keep any gossip at a very low level and generally keep socializing to “light” topics. I make a point to visit the grad offices to say hello and see if my students need anything. I think it’s important to remain a human being in this job. I used to get so frustrated for professors when they were totally unavailable that it’s made me conscious enough to be available when I can be. Visiting with them in their domain can be helpful to hear what’s going on in their grad student heads.

It’s truly all about balance in any situation. I cannot say enough positive things about my department. I’m really enjoying it. Within any group of humans, politics and office chatter are bound to arise and it’s important to be aware of it. Having other friends to chat with about whatever is happening is the way to go. I’m not talking about slandering anyone, but an outside source (or several) who can listen is always key. An outside person may also have an objective, non-biased opinion and you can surely benefit from that.

Whatever the situation is, navigating the social aspect of any department is an exercise. Don’t overdo it. Nobody wants to be “that guy or girl.”

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Manuscript Meltdown: Submission Season

Manuscript Meltdown: New Faculty

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The sound of the clattering keyboard is my favorite. Compared to the sound that I hear when my forehead hits the desk, it’s like music to my ears. Submission season is here! I love working up a manuscript, but only if I get enough time to do it.

Working with graduate students has rewards and challenges. Submission season has caused a small manuscript meltdown from one student this year due to time management. As someone who writes and submits regularly (like all of my colleagues), I cannot help but beg and plead with graduate students to manage their time in order to get timely feedback.

As a young faculty member who happens to love writing and research, I enjoy seeing my students make positive progress. No, you won’t get accepted 100% of the time, but if you’re improving, then you’re moving forward. As a faculty, I always remember to thank my students for their continual hard work. I know it’s a pain. I know it’s not always fun. AT ALL. But, I know why we’re all here. I’m here to help. I’m here to guide. I’m here to comment my face off in your word document in the spirit of improving. I often preface my first round of edits with, “I comment because I care” and I really do. Be worried if you don’t see any comments. Unless we’ve been working on this for a while, I’ve probably lost interest or didn’t give it the time it deserved.

  • Delegate your time in advance.
  • Send notes to your collaborators.
  • Know that it’s going to take much longer than you expected anyway.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help (in a timely fashion).
  • Follow the submission outline.
  • Find a submission to the same conference or journal that was accepted and model it.
  • Edit, edit, and edit it again.
  • Be explicit in your language in the body. There’s usually not space for flowery innuendo. Be literal. Say what you mean.
  • Don’t expect help. I hate to be negative nancy on the whole thing, but sometimes, people don’t follow through. Sometimes, people are on your author list but don’t do work. Sometimes, you’re going to have to man/lady up and rock it out.
  • Understand in advance you can use the writing for something else. If this is ongoing research, you will likely be able to use it for other submissions or articles. Most conferences are moving towards abstracts for acceptance, but there’s still some laggards who want 10+ pages for a 20 minute presentation. I call this a “valuable lesson in patience.”

Understand that growth is what’s most important. You may not get accepted but did you manuscript improve from the previous submission? Becoming a better researcher is a process, it’s something I remind myself of daily. There will be days of frustration and there will be days of sheer triumph. Celebrate whenever you can. It’s always worth a little dance party in your office.

 

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