Things that frost my shorts – snowflake discipline edition

I swear that someone actually said this at study section (paraphrase): This field is really harder than all the others, I know people always say that, but its true here.

I’ve heard it at tenure committee meetings: The work I do [from TT person] is so much harder than anyone else in the department it takes me X years to get a single pub out. That’s why I am up for tenure with only 6 pubs.

Everyone’s field is the hardest ever. People who do single cell neuro recordings. People who do molecular genetics. People who do epidemiology of disease du jour. People who do paleontology and can only collect fossils one time of the year. People who do archeology in places like Syria and Iraq. People who do tropical rainforest ecology in the Philippines. People who do psychology with serial killers.

Look, research is hard. You are not a snowflake. Everyone’s work has lots of problems. Find someone to help/mentor/listen to your tales of woe, but pack it up when you talk to your dept chair, tenure/promotions committee chair, or someone on the outside trying to help you. In the end, for publications, you either do or you don’t. Everyone (faculty) should have some spare data to work on, a small paper left over from thesis or postdoc or that nearly useless undergrad who collected some data, that they can take and turn into a short publication. Maybe it goes to a lesser IF journal. But its something out. It keeps you from having big gaps in your CV.

Oh, and my fellow reviewers on study section – you do not endear yourself to the other people around the table by making the snowflake argument for someone who has only published 2-3 papers, particularly when it is in your field.


4 thoughts on “Things that frost my shorts – snowflake discipline edition

  1. You can’t just dismiss the fact that in some subdisciplines experiments just take longer. It’s not necessarily that it is more difficult, but the rate of data collection and analysis can be slow such that it takes a while before you even have anythingthat’s publishable. It’s not like folks sit around doing nothing if they don’t publish two or ten papers a year. Or are you advocating that folks focus on inconsequenial publications at the expense of projects that will take their lab in exciting new directions and set the foundations of their future careers just to publish for the sake of publishing? I know it’s a fine balance, but you don’t seem to be leaving room for this.

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

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