Thursday, January 31, 2013

Learning From Negative Example IV:

See previous installments: I, II and III

Sometimes, you just have to let one thing go in the name of getting three more things done
When a student has graduated and is completely noncommunicative about a manuscript, and you have another student who is still here *begging* you to read their papers, maybe spend some time on the project more likely to bear immediate fruit?

Tell students about deadlines
Yes, we should all be working hard all of the time. But there is a research equivalent of a sprint, which cannot be maintained for the length of a marathon. If you tell me about deadlines more than a day in advance, I can ramp up effort on the related project accordingly. I can't read your mind.

Don't get so caught up in details you miss the big picture
When you read a paper, read for content first, and then read for style and grammar. If it's not truly awful, give feedback on the science first (since that's what takes the most time for us). Don't be afraid to hand it back and say "Get someone else to read this" or "Reread this and try again" instead of nitpicking every sentence. When you ask for ideas for projects, don't get obsessed on one detail to the point of refusing to listen to further ideas (especially when we're telling you that what you want to do is impossible).

There's overselling, and then there's promising them a flying pink pony 
I get that grants need to be impressive, but when you promise to send someone to the moon with pocket change, the reviewers are going to reject you because you clearly don't know what you're doing.

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