Sunday, November 4, 2012

Authenticity in 2.0?

I recently tweeted and wrote on Facebook about a paper rejection. Afterwards, I heard the comment that I should not write about those things, for several reasons:
- People will only remember my bad news and not my good news.
- You have to remain quiet with regard to failures.
- Your "competitors" will read this and feel good about it.

However, my goal on this blog, and on Twitter is to show the real life in academia:
- the lovely places where you get to travel to conferences as well as the late nights in the office;
- the immense joy upon approval of a manuscript as well as the rejections and lessons learned;
- the juggling of tasks as well as the moments of solitude in which you find yourself wrestling with a difficult concept.

I was more than relieved when I read "Being Inappropriate" by Chris Ashford. It also led to a short discussion on Twitter, where I mentioned the negative comments I got on tweeting about paper rejection. I storified the tweets

You might wonder why I tweeted about the paper rejection, but did not dedicate a blog post to it. The reason is that I don't feel like this chapter is finished. I received the comments of the reviewers, and I understood my "mistake". As I was struggling with the word limit, I decided to cut out most of the information on my experiments and refer to previously published work of mine. That technique left me with more words to spend on explaining what I did next (applying the findings to a method for assessment for existing solid slab bridges, and checking a set of existing bridges according to 2 methods). However, the reviewers -rightfully- pointed out they had no idea what the recommendations are based on, and the paper doesn't tell the full story.
For a blog post, I would like to have the story completed - I already know what is missing, but I still need to go and reflect on how I can incorporate all the necessary information into an improved and revamped version of that paper. Therefore, until the story is complete and I know how to tackle the problem, I will not write a full post on it.

So far, I don't think it is harmful to write about rejections and the learning processes in academia (because in the end, you learn from a rejection and you will improve your writing afterwards, no?). But I'd like to know: do you write about rejections? Or do you only highlight your successes and achievements?


  1. I struggle to share my failures on FB where I conduct my social interactions. New to Twitter where I conduct my scholarly interactions but would have initially done the same. I have blogged about hoping for success but never followed up describing the failure. Food for thought. I think it could be valuable

  2. Thanks for sharing, Naomi. I do think it is closely linked with a more open version of scholarship and science


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