I am finishing a paper draft today. After working on it for months, most of which time was spent staring uninspired at my computer, today I will send the draft to my adviser for review. For those who don’t know me, or aren’t that clear on what I do, I’m a Post-doc working in basic science research. This means that I have a PhD and am now passing time in the equivalent of academic purgatory, where one spends long years attempting to ascend to the heavens of professorship while proving themselves worthy of the title. Worth equals, if you haven’t already guessed it, papers. Whether this is something I actually want to do (be a professor / God of academia), is a question for another time. But papers are my currency, and so write I must.
A good scientist is always skeptical, always questions, always doubts. But, personally, I believe that to be a successful scientist you can’t question yourself too much. This is why so many brilliant and successful scientists also have enormous egos. The questioning is inherent to the scientific process. Through peer review, others will be sure to find all possible flaws in your data and interpretations. In anticipation of this, a good scientist is always sure to do all necessary controls (often while grumbling about their necessity). But, to be able to devote hours of your life to experiments that are true long-shots (as all the big breakthroughs must be), you need to have a significant amount of personal confidence and a sense infallibility. I do not. And so I’ve been staring at this manuscript (a mere “letter” no less) for months, telling myself the 800 reasons why it is not worthy for publication. This ends today. At least I hope. I will decide it is fantastic, that I think it is the best thing ever, and send it onto the next stages in the long journey to publication, all of which designed to reveal to me its many flaws.
Running update: Beautiful warm day today. Hard to imagine that the East River felt so sinister two days ago. Today it was sunlight glinting on water, and bobbing wild fowl: a flock of Grebes, which excited me greatly, to the amusement of my friend. 4.5 miles, 9.0 m/miles.