Albatrosses and other birds to flip

MoFo the albatross finally dislodged itself from around my neck, fell to the ground, and was deliciously broiled for dinner.  Tasted like chicken.  The stupid paper I was complaining about not getting revised has finally been accepted.  Good review process, but a little slower than normal on both ends.  It will probably be another 3 or 4 years until I get another first-author paper, but I’m sure glad to get this stupid project off my plate so I can work on another stupid project.  I do think that this paper may get a decent number of citations, though.

Totally coincidentally (no joke, this had nothing to do with actually getting this paper published), I may be one of the least qualified persons to ever win a faculty research award.  The award actually feels a little patronizing and I doubt that the person who nominated me could articulate anything that would make me specifically qualified for the award this year.  I prefer to think of it as more of an after-the-fact award for the times when I really have been a bit more productive.  It’s one of the highest research awards on my campus, a certificate in a fancy cardboard folder, suitable for framing – if I provide the frame.  My cup runneth over!

Also coincidentally, after bad-mouthing one of the big “glamour mags” in this blog a couple months ago, I got asked to review a paper for the other one that publishes papers from my field.  For those living on the right side of the street of academia, this isn’t a big deal, but I’ve never been asked to review for a top journal, nor have I ever been published in one, nor am I likely to ever be.  I presume one of my senior collaborators passed this on to me, because I’ve never been lead author on a paper on this topic.  I should have probably recused myself on the grounds that I don’t really read the glamour mags, but one of my colleagues is a member of a particular association, so I do look at his copy of said mag occasionally for articles in my field.  I publish so little and the field-specific journals where I publish do not use multiple reviewers and end up eventually accepting most non-crackpot papers, such that I don’t get asked very often by any journal to review.  Thus, I actually don’t mind the requests too much.  Of course, it probably takes me a lot longer than most people to review a paper, because I usually have to do a fair bit of background reading from the paper’s reference list (and digging around for preprints of papers for the many journals to which I don’t have access) since I can’t fully keep up with what goes on in my research areas.

I was also asked to serve on an NSF review panel, but it was going to be on two critical days of the semester and there’s no way I could swing it.  This was also a first for me, and I’m ethically obligated to take part sometime even though I’m probably a piss-poor judge of what should get funded because I can’t read the journals regularly or go to conferences to know what’s hot.  There’s only a remote chance that it would help me in the future, but I do need to pay it backwards a bit.  However, the people who can work off their own schedules (i.e., the ones who do science most or all of the time) seem to like to schedule these things during the week, to save their precious weekends.  I understand the reasons for that, but science is something I do on weekends and sometimes evenings.  During the main semesters, I don’t spend enough hours during weekdays to amount to a total of two work days on research in any given month, let alone in the same week or on back-to-back days.  It could be a disaster, but I hope to end up on a panel at some point, but that would require being asked to review during the summer.

Speaking of which, that’s sure getting close.  This might be the first summer in quite a while where I’m not getting paid to do any work at all, teaching, research, or service.  Of course, that doesn’t change how much work I’ll do, but I may have a bit more flexibility in working for free.


3 thoughts on “Albatrosses and other birds to flip

  1. Congratulations! I have a feeling that research awards are, in fact, deserved and not based on dart throwing…so hope you had an extra cup of something to celebrate the overflow.

  2. prefer to think of it as more of an after-the-fact award for the times when I really have been a bit more productive.

    I thank the academy…

    Congratulations! Don’t beat yourself up so much. Someone somewhere obviously thinks you do good work. Go frame that sucker and display it proudly in your office.

  3. Ah, shucks! I don’t think I want to display the certificate, because I don’t want to contribute to administrators delusions that we can be productive researchers given our teaching and service loads. (I’m on a committee that is trying to work on these issues, though.) Actually, it will probably sit on my desk for the rest of the semester like my paper drafts, “glamour mag” review materials, uncollected exams, residue from various lunches, etc.

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