Papers abandoned to publication

Someone(s) asked about the origin of the quote:

Scientific papers are never finished, they are merely abandoned to publication.

This direct quote, not a paraphrase, is from one of my thesis committee members, Ernest Williams (EE Williams), who was a herpetologist & ecologist.


Neither of those were my fields, but he was what would now be termed a unicorn. He also was one of the funniest human beings, with a wicked dry sense of humor. He gave me wonderful advice in the days before people talked about mentoring etc. There are only about 20,000 other people who would say the same thing.

One of my favorite Ernest stories concerned one of his Ph.D. students. In those days, you could hand in your thesis the day before your defense. It was not looked up with favor, but there were no enforced rules about it. This student handed in a thesis that was over 600 pages long. Ernest said: I read every 47th page going forward and every 61rst page going backwards to get a flavor of the thesis.  Student passed and is now moderately famous.


3 thoughts on “Papers abandoned to publication

  1. Pingback: Publication rates and Discipline difficulties | Mistress of the Animals

  2. Pingback: Grant proposal submitted, and now some small space in life | Mistress of the Animals

  3. Pingback: Requested repost: Effort In vs. Quality Out | Mistress of the Animals

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