Ring… ring…

Hello ?

Excuse me, who ? Oh… Wow… LongTime Collaborator !
Now, isn’t this a surprise… It is great to hear from you, man… how have you been ? Yeah, I know, how long has it been ? Like, forever… when was last time ? Oh, yeah, now I remember… you were supposed to write the first draft of that paper… you remember, that calculation that you had told me had to be done “in a hurry”, on that “super hot” subject, on which new results would have made a “real splash”… Well, I guess that did not happen, eh ?


Oh, I know, I know, that calculation turned out to be not that important after all — it was just an instance of, well, let’s say less-than-great judgment on your part. And hey, it is all right, it happens to everyone… and ultimately, of course, it was my decision to go along — it is not my area of expertise, I trusted your opinion and… well, we are all entitled to make mistakes.
You know, every once in a while I think about it, though, and… it seems to me that it is still a pretty decent calculation, and even though it does not really offer anything fundamentally new, it may still be a useful reference for others… what we like to call an “incremental contribution”. And, given that it was, after all, worth a few months of work for me, I kind of wish we had managed to get it published…

Why sure, I know that “the world can do without it”, the world can quite likely do without both me and you and everything we have done so far and are poised to do in the next umpteen years… it does not sound like a very good reason not to publish what has taken some significant fraction of the time for which I am being paid — time that I could have spent on my own research projects instead, if you know what I mean…
Why, yeah, of course, I suppose I can do it all by myself, but, you see, this is not my area of expertise, and so in order to write a paper I have to engage in a lengthy literature search, for which right now I cannot really find the time… In fact, that is what I thought would be your contribution. After all, it is not a project on which I would have embarked if I had not been repeatedly asked by you… I thought “collaboration” involved work done by both parties…

Oh… I see… you have been “busy”, eh ? Well, in that case… Sorry, my bad… that surely explains everything… Hey, what does that word mean, anyway ? Yeah, “busy”… really, tell me, it is a new concept that you are bringing up with this “busy” thing… Oh, I see… student supervision… proposals… teaching… administration… wow, you are opening a door to a whole new world… I did not even know that these things existed…
Well, gee, yeah, I guess I am being sarcastic… What gave it away, Sherlock ? No, really, where do you get the notion that I cannot possibly be every bit as busy as you are, and more ?
That’s right, we have exactly the same position at comparable institutions, we are both dealing with students, postdocs, colleagues, demanding university administrations, and program directors, and with all due respect, if I look at our recent records (publications, grants, graduate student supervisions), I would say that if you have been “busy”, I have been that multiplied by two…

Of course it pisses me off ! Are you kidding me ?
Yes, let me tell you what my problem is: somehow, sometime in the past, you have decided that I do not really have my own, independent ideas and research program to advance. No, I am just sitting here, lolly-gagging around all day… what ? yeah, I learned that word from Cherish… yeah, I know, it is pretty good, eh ? But anyway, that is besides the point, let me finish please… you have somehow made, consciously or unconsciously, the decision that I am here doing nothing, waiting for you or someone else to give me something to calculate, because, in your mind, I am just “producing numbers”, not really doing science…
Well, OK, if you don’t think that way, then I strongly suggest that you start showing some more respect for your collaborators. Deeds count more than words, and yes, insisting to get someone involved on a project, and then dropping the ball on them, like you did with me, is rude, insulting, and unprofessional.

No, why don’t you listen to me: If someone ever asks me an opinion on whether you should be included in a big project, what do you think I should say, based on my experience with you ? If a prospective student or postdoc asked me an opinion on you, as a potential advisor or mentor, what do you think I should tell them ? No, you tell me…

OK, fine, listen, I agree, we are off to a bad start this morning, so, why don’t you tell me what it is that you called for. Oh ? Which calculation, exactly ? A “hot subject”, eh ? Needs to be done quickly…

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6 Responses to “Ring… ring…”

  1. Propter Doc Says:

    Feel better now?

    Not the best start to the day though.

  2. Cath@VWXYNot? Says:

    Ah this sounds so familiar…

    There is a lot of science that the world can do without. Does the world really, really, need to know about the promoters of the genes I used to work on? Probably not. But that is not really the point…

  3. Massimo (formerly known as Okham) Says:

    ROTFL… Someone (NOT the person to whom this post is dedicated) has sent me an e-mail telling me that I am “over-reacting” … talk about a chip on their shoulder… hehehehe… maybe I should do this more often :-)

  4. Professor in Training Says:

    Ranting can be a very cathartic experience, Massimo. Now perch yourself in front of the tv with a big bag of Doritos and your all set to decompress PiT-style :)

  5. ScientistMother Says:

    hehe, that was funny.

    Your Questions:

    1. what made you choose Canada to immigrate to?
    2. what is your favourite season?
    3. what is your idea of a perfect date?
    4. You are pretty far left leaning, would you consider yourself a communist?
    This is my favourite Q, so everyone is getting asked:
    5. If you could invite any person (living or dead) for dinner, who would you invite?

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