The Sassy Scientist – Research Reticence

The Sassy Scientist – Research Reticence

Iiris is a bit indecisive. On the one hand, she wants to get as much science as she can into her thesis. On the other, she wants to actually finish her thesis in time, before unemployment inevitably comes knocking. She sighs:

Should I do that one extra research project for my PhD, or just start writing the thesis?

Dear Iiris,

Definitely go for the extra research project. One cannot have too many. You need it: a young scientist has to get the ball rolling. Get noticed. Get their name out there. Get that citation index up. Live your life out of your office. Or home office nowadays. By now, you’ve got plenty of experience on working your little projects. You can fit another one in. Without any problems. You’re smart enough. You’re resourceful enough. You’ve got ample support from your supervisor and potential co-authors. What’s there to worry about?

Üheksa korda mõõda, üks kord lõika. Time that is. Time is the problem: it’s in short supply, you can’t buy any more and -I cannot stress this enough- it is vital for you to relax and get some sleep. Enough sleep. Plenty of sleep. Sleep worth of a billion sheep over the fence. All the planning in the world unfortunately isn’t going to help: it is ever so likely that you’ll get stuck with an especially difficult to find bug in your code (despite painstakingly rewriting sundry subroutines four times over), your models don’t seem to produce quantities that match the observations (whichever combination of input parameters you’ve tried) or you cannot seem to get that one paper published (for some well-articulated yet slightly baffling reason there exists a dire need for even more model runs). Never mind that your last project resulted in quite the drama when you made that fundamental error in your reasoning, in hindsight of course, and it cost a year to properly redefine your model, run it and rewrite that paper/chapter. Never mind how long it took your co-authors to free up their ever so busy schedules to focus on your first paper. Never mind your mental state. What is it now, DEFCON V? Definitely go for that extra research project! You go for an additional paper that you’ll probably submit during you post-doc. You go for some last-minute stress, and write your thesis during your breakfast and dinner breaks, as that’s the only time left to do so. While you’re at it, why don’t you pop out a blog post too? Or turn yourself into a blog editor? That’s easily done by the looks of it. Anyways, if you have some time left, realistically, Magavale kassile hiir suhu ei jookse and get your name out there with another tantalizing gem of a paper. Julge hundi rind on rasvane.

Ära hõiska enne õhtut.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was written without any time constraints, after a full nights sleep and with ample time for writing next week’s.

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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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