Sciencewomen

InaDWriMo Wrap-up

i-9dc84d4d9156dccb30d5f62466b4219a-swblocks.jpgThe month of November has but 11 hours left, and with it, I bid farewell to InaDWriMo, the month in which I (and many other brave souls) pledged to make significant progress in our academic writing. I set before myself three goals: complete and submit a grant application; complete major revisions to a paper; and do the majority of data analysis for a poster.

I got the grant submitted.

I worked really really hard on the revisions, but I still need to revise the conclusions, abstract, and one figure, and send the revised paper off to the co-authors before resubmitting it.

The poster data analysis is started, but barely. I am increasingly sick with the thought of trying to get it done in the next <2 weeks until the conference. If I were a PhD student or a post-doc, with no teaching and service responsibilities, it would definitely be do-able. If I were a childless professor, it might still be do-able, but not pretty. As is, I'm going to be defining a new minimum of output for the poster, and it definitely won't be pretty.

If I had only two of the three tasks on my plate in November, I think I could have managed them without giving myself a nervous breakdown in the process, but three was just too many. Yet, they were all hard, external deadlines to which I'd made commitments months ago. So I'm not sure what I could have done differently starting November 1 in order to make my month a success.

The big lesson I have learned though: Despite what my PhD advisor managed to pull off repeatedly, it is not a good idea to submit an abstract with very little data collected. He managed to pull off well-received talks because (1) he had grad students and research assistants to do the frantic work in the 2-3 weeks before the conference; (2) he has enough stature and tenure in the research community that he can give mostly “conceptual” talks and still be OK; and (3) he’s one of the most gifted public speakers I know. I’ve got none of those going for me, yet I still submitted an abstract on a project that was mostly a figment of my imagination. Lesson learned, I won’t be doing that again for a while.

Comments

  1. #1 ecogeofemme
    November 30, 2008

    Well, you can feel good about what you did do!

    The siren call of writing an abstract with no data is a killer. You’re sure not the only one who makes that mistake. I always want to present something NEW! which means something that I’m still working on. But it’s a vicious cycle because I submit an abstract for which I have little data, then frantically make the presentation at the last minute, then that project seems old and stale for the next abstract deadline that rolls around, when the data are finally mature enough to actually be appropriate to present. My adviser is even worse. Sigh…

  2. #2 Roi des Foux
    November 30, 2008

    I submitted an abstract with very little data at the beginning of October (on account of my PI saying “I think you can get it done in time”). Doing the experiments, data analysis, and making the poster in time for the conference 4 weeks later was almost more than my pre-grad student pseudo-biologist self could handle (although it does allow me to insert a “First Poster!” pun here). You have my sincerest sympathies.

  3. #3 NY SciChick
    November 30, 2008

    Cool on getting the grant application in- that’s a pretty major thing checked off your to do list. Is this part of why some people start submitting the ‘vague’ abstract that is really unspecific about what will be presented (I know a large part of it’s because of competition too)?

  4. #4 b
    December 1, 2008

    Please remember this lesson for your future students as well. My PI thought I could get a second poster ready and I did but just barely.