One major project down, another one started. The first manuscript that I was revising is finished and has been sent back to the publisher for further review. The second article that I’m working on was not as far along. So, now I am starting from scratch. But I find that when starting from scratch I can’t just type all of my thoughts out at once. I have to type a little and get a basis and then let it rest for a day. After letting it rest I can pick it up again and usually I am able to see places where I could better express myself or I could use different evidence or something like that. In the downtime I can’t just sit around and wait. I have to find a different project to work on during that time so I have found a paper that was mostly done but hasn’t been completed yet. It’s on a different topic so it will allow my brain to take a break from the original manuscript and focus on the revised older manuscript for the time being. This is sort of like crop rotation: one day I am working on one paper and the next day I’m working on another with the goal that both would prosper during that time period. Thank you farmers for thinking up this ingenious method of letting ground go to good use every year without depleting all of the energy that is in the soil — of my mind or of the earth. Cheesy analogy, but appropriate I think!
Monthly Archives: January 2012
It’s not quite the academic version of a hydra, but is similar in some ways. I am thankful to have finished and submitted the paper on ICT in the GCC that I was revising for a journal last Friday. Spent the weekend thinking about the next project, and dove into some early drafting of the next article yesterday morning and last night. Now I am knee-deep in the early draft of this new article. It is again something that I am extremely behind on, but with no other distractions (yeah, right), I should have a complete draft by Friday that will be ready to share with my co-authors for their comments and contribution. Life moves fast!
I said yesterday that the final stages of revision are painfully slow, and I wasn’t kidding. I’m still at it today, and have identified a few numbers-related revisions that I’m going to have to re-calculate at some point. This is definitely the “darkest-before-the-dawn” moment, but there’s light (and a celebratory beer and cigar) at the end of the tunnel. Almost there!
I’m dictating this from the car which should suggest that the work schedule today is a little off. I have a problem with my printer cartridge and I will really want to print off the draft manuscript of my revised paper so that I can make some further revisions. Of course this means that I am also going to do a couple of errands. I just went to the bank. Now I am going to the shopping mall to pick up some cleaning solution for my daughter. And then I’m going to stop at the tobacconist that is near the mall and see what they have. This is going to take a little bit of time. And of course I will end up eating lunch out somewhere and that will take up even a little more time. So my schedule while flexible is not necessarily going to be fulfilled today. Such is life.
Today so far has been a mix of both pipe smoking and working. I think that that is an excellent combination when I can afford to do both at the same time. The pipe smoking however often leads me off of whatever topic I’m supposed to be thinking about for work, but that’s okay because I think in the long run it all evens out. So far I’ve written a glowing recommendation for another of my graduate students applying to doctoral programs, I responded to an invitation to speak at a conference in Qatar, and I’ve got myself set up to look at the article that was sent to me to review by a professional journal. I have to say all of this is really not the main point of my work today. I need to finalize the revisions to the paper that I’ve been doing the analysis for now for two weeks. I think I should get to that this afternoon, but I find myself wanting to be distracted. That’s not a bad life.
Anybody who does quantitative analysis will tell you that setting up, running, and organizing the data is really the tedious part. Most of the fun comes in interpreting the data and making some sense of what it tells you related to the real world. But, there’s also a bit of pleasure to be derived from the mechanics of quantitative analysis. While it can be mind-numbingly boring for some people, it also has a rhythm to it that is somehow comforting and provides a real sense of accomplishment when completed. It also requires surprisingly little observable activity to get A LOT accomplished. In other words, if you were to watch me do this you’d think I was just tinkering around with the laptop keyboard…but that would be a deceptive misinterpretation. Most of the action is in the connection between what I’m thinking and how those little keyboard movements are manipulating and shaping the data to tell a story about my research question and what the evidence shows. So, even though this is extremely tedious (and this stage of the data process really is), it can be kind of intellectually fun, too. Now that I’m putting the results of my HLM analyses into data tables I can sense that the end is near. The hunt is coming to a close, slowly but with a real certainty. The video below provides a little taste of what this is like. It’s not rocket science, but it’s a whole lot more than just puttering around with some numbers.