Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jumping ship?

I went to an interesting conference last October where a group of attendees (including me) decided to collectively write a paper based on discussions we had during the conference. We had a conference call on Skype, set up a wiki, and created a group library in Zotero. One person decided to take a leadership role (and first authorship) for the paper, and two other people stepped up to create a leadership trio. They created an outline based on our conference conversations and others. The rest of us chose pieces to develop within the framework defined by the outline. This paper will be on a topic that find interesting, but does not directly relate to the rest of my research and I generally feel out of my element. I am mostly just curious, and I signed up thinking that I would stick with this project as long as it seemed to make sense for me to do so. I teamed up with another person whom I like a lot, but we haven't done much writing yet. We were just starting to get our act together when disaster struck.

The leader is leaving academia for a different job. I didn't see that coming. Now we have no leader for our paper. Neither of the vice-leaders wants to be numero uno. I already felt out of my element, so I felt like a leader's vision for how this should develop was critical to my involvement in the paper. Now I am very hesitant to put any time or effort into working on this project because it seems doomed unless a new leader steps up. It has been more than two weeks now and no one has budged. We had another conference call and someone has agreed to "herd the cats" but not lead the project intellectually. A couple of people will work together to do that but both are in the throes of finishing their dissertations this year and can't commit to much. I am hesitantly continuing my (up-to-now) minimal involvement in the project, but I just don't know if it's worth it. I guess I'll see how the next few months go.

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