Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in review

I never reviewed 2010 on my blog or posted goals for 2011, which I regret. I'm not going to make that mistake this year!

Although I didn't write it down, my biggest goal for 2011 was to finish my field work. CHECK! DONE! COMPLETE!

I presented at a big conference which resulted in useful connections and feedback.

I also managed to get two publications submitted in December, one of which has been in the works for 2+ years, and another that is just a short little thing.

2011 was a light blogging year (only 57 posts counting this one). When I fall out of the habit, I write less. I don't think it's much more complicated than that.

It has been a busy year. By my calculations, I've spent 2750 hours this year doing work, which I define as things I wouldn't be doing if this wasn't my career. That works out to an average of ~53 hours/week across 52 weeks of the year. I excluded my plane travel to and from Ukenzagapia because that adds dozens of hours. I think I had about 5 weeks worth of "vacation" where I wasn't working much if at all (a week in the spring, 2 in the summer, a week in the fall, and a week at Christmas). Spending 5.5 months this year in Ukenzagapia really pushed up those numbers since I work crazy 65-90 hour weeks in the field.

I keep track of how many hours I work for a few of reasons. When I'm in my office, logging my hours helps me keep track of when I'm really working and when I'm just reading crap on the internet or at the gym exercising. I aim to work 8 hours a day, 5 days per week when I'm not in the field or on vacation. In the field, I do it to help combat the feeling that I should be doing more. Finally, I figure there might be a handful of people out there interested in my quantification of this aspect of life as a scientist. I'm sure I've missed some things here and there, but I think it's a pretty good estimate of how much I'm working.

2011 has been a pretty good year. I'm halfway through my FIFTH year of grad school now! It's hard to believe. Thank you to all of you who are still reading my ruminations, and I hope 2012 brings more peace, love, and joy into your lives.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Good news

Sam received the fellowship that I helped him apply for. It's exciting, and a little bit daunting. Although I'm not being funded by this, I play an integral role in making it happen and it will involve a lot of collaboration and management of different people on my part. Hopefully it will also advance the database that we started working on 3 years ago.

I really feel like a true collaborator now with Sam. I'm pretty sure that he would not have gotten this fellowship without my help!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Revolving door of manuscripts

Last night Sam and I submitted another manuscript. This one really, truly is a short natural history kind of thing and he did most of the writing. By my calculations, I only spent 15 hours on this one. I think it's likely to get published, albeit in a small journal. This morning we already heard that it's in review. Yay!

This morning we also found out that our other manuscript was rejected by the editor (this is journal #3). It isn't a good fit for the journal. I had my concerns about this, so I am not surprised. Sam suggested resubmitting to another similar journal, but I think it would also be rejected there without review. So, we just Skyped for 45 minutes discussing the pros and cons of various alternative journals. We've settled on another that reaches a good audience. In my heart of hearts, I still think the best place for this paper is journal #2 (where it did get reviewed) but they won't reconsider it.

I was looking forward to settling my books from my last trip to Ukenzagapia today (just how much did I spend?) and other post-season work, but this has to take priority. We want to submit again today or tomorrow, so now I'll be re-crafting this for journal #4. I. must. publish. soon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

263 hours

Tonight Sam and I are submitting a manuscript. Well, kind of. We're sort of pre-submitting a manuscript. We're sending it the editor to ask for feedback on what type of piece it should be submitted as. He'll either say: (1) Thanks, but no thanks. We won't publish this type of thing. (2) Cool. Submit it online as A/B/C so it can go through the review process. Or (3) Um, maybe we might take it as A/B/C but first you should do XYZ before you submit it.

Since I got back from Ukenzagapia a month ago, this has been my priority. I. must. publish. something. asap! I wrote the first draft of this manuscript more than 2 years ago. It was submitted twice and rejected twice (once with review, once without) in 2010. The amount of data has tripled since the first submission, because every time Sam or I have gone to the field we've collected more data. I originally called this my "short note". Ha!

By my calculations, I've spent at least 263 hours on this manuscript. In 40 hour work weeks, that's 6.5 weeks. That doesn't even include data collection. That does include some data entry, writing, reading relevant literature, revising, corresponding with Sam, finding references, some analysis, making and reworking figures, and formatting citations. I don't know about you, but I think that's an insane amount of time. This is my first real paper, which everyone says takes a long time (no kidding).

Just for kicks, let's turn those hours into dollars. Based on my stipend of $2500 per month, we could estimate that it cost more than $4000 in my labor alone to produce this manuscript (that's assuming $625 per week just for the sake of simplicity). And that's not counting Sam's time, which is much more valuable than mine! Science is expensive.

But the real kicker is that it's not over yet. The manuscript is likely to be rejected from this journal, which means it will have to go through more revisions before we can send it somewhere else. I'll just keep counting, mostly to satisfy my own curiosity.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Today I finally got reimbursed for some of my expenses for the conference I attended FOUR MONTHS AGO. These things take a long time. At least I did manage to get some money.