The Sassy Scientist – Need For Compliments

The Sassy Scientist – Need For Compliments

Scientists are starved for recognition. When that little compliment we have been fishing for does not arrive from our supervisor, but from an unkown benefactor, we tend to open our hearts to them. But we should be careful about our new email besties. Delfina asks:

Publishers have approached me for a book deal. How do I proceed?

Dear Delfina,

For the vast majority of the times, ignore them. Chances are great that you are dealing with a less than trustworthy publisher. If I had a penny for every time I was asked to contribute to writing a book or book chapter in something completely unrelated to what they think I am doing… I would be sponsoring my own research! For life!

“I know, but what if this email seems legit, is well written, full of compliments and they cite a paper of mine to justify their reaching out to me. They must be serious people that obviously did their homework!” Assuming, however, you are looking at one of those emails that are almost a photocopy of one another, let’s look at the biggest potential red flags:

Red flag number 1: Too many compliments in this email! These ‘publishers’ are very good at stroking your ego, something we scientist are frequently in deep need of and these individuals know that very well. Just think about it, unless it is your parents or close family writing this email, do you think it’s normal for someone that does not know you to sing your praises so loudly?

Red flag number 2: They did not, in fact, read your paper! Isn’t it strange that they are asking you to contribute to a book on brain chemistry? Isn’t this even stranger considering that they are doing so based on your paper on numerical mantle convection simulations?

Red flag number 3: Just google the name of this ‘publisher” next to the word ‘predatory’. There will be results.

Red flag number 4: Not to put you down, but let’s be clear; why would someone invite you to write this book? If you’ve met people that wrote serious scientific books you will know that nobody invited them and by the time they finished they cursed the day they decided to embark on this journey. If someone is inviting you for a book chapter, then ask yourself who is the editor, and if they provide you with a list of contributors, the lack of names you know should make you hit the ‘bin this email’ button faster than the time it takes you to blink.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: Someone invited me to write this post. Where is my money now??

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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