Academia, Career, Hobbies, Philosophy, Writing

Publish or Perish

I’ve just come off writing a research paper. Usually when this happens I tend to take it a bit easy. Writing a research paper is incredibly draining. You put emotion and every piece of intellectual knowledge you have into communicating the goal, the approach, the results, and what all of this means into a clear report.

This report should it become published, immortalizes your efforts.  It becomes the foundation for future research, for yourself or others. In a way, there is a great responsibility for publishing well.

And, so you understand the pressures, as a neuroscientist who is pursuing a successful career, it truly is “publish or perish”.  Without publications you can’t get grant funding. Without publications you can’t get promoted. Without publications, you’ve essentially done nothing with your academic life, at least on paper.

So as soon as I finish writing a manuscript, even just a draft, I purposely take a pause.

…To gather myself again after being drained from the experience.

Unlike creative writing, technical academic writing is driven by data and rigid formulations that must be met. The standards of writing are strict and punishing. What is objective must stay objective. My thoughts and feelings about the data must be separate.

It’s like a prisoner in a jail cell that is suddenly released. What would you do on your first day out? Well, today is my first day out. I’m done, and it is good.

Ironically, I want to write some more….and put myself right back in it. There’s something really amazing about this job that brightens me up. Successful suffering, I guess would be the right term.


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