Day: December 12, 2014

15-min Improv Blogging 2

1. I just received a revision of a paper I had previously reviewed. I gave them a very positive and enthusiastic first review, but required that they do two things, which I know they can do, as some of the authors have done them before on similar systems, and which I know would require a few weeks of work; the cost of the additional work is not onerous, as it’s computational. They came back not having done anything to the manuscript. They wrote a response in which they argued that what I had asked them to do was a great idea and something they should ideally do, but that it would take too much time (I disagree) so they just don’t want to do it right now.

A word of advice to anyone who will ever submit a paper for peer review: you should not expend all your time and energy on the response letter, arguing with the reviewer. If you don’t want to or cannot do what was required, then do something else instead. You have to make some edits in response to what was required. A comment, a reference, a paragraph of discussion along the lines of what the referee requested and why it is a good idea in principle but not right now and might be done later.

How can I accept your paper when you have made absolutely no edits whatsoever to it? As if  my first report never happened.

Err on the side of more editing rather than rebutting.

2. I am not an entrepreneur. I don’t want to be an entrepreneur. I just looked at the funding call from one of DoD agencies for technology transfer/small business proposals. Under one topic, they want to fund the development of a simulation tool that might well have the pics of me and my collaborator on it. But I don’t want to develop a commercial tool. I don’t want to have a company and sell the code. I don’t want to supervise people developing user interfaces. I want to develop codes to address scientific problems that are too complicated to tackle without computers.

In my area, dissemination of codes is not as common as it perhaps should be. There are all the usual culprits — people don’t want to lose the competitive advantage, they don’t have the time or resources to develop the user interface, they don’t have the time or personnel to provide user support for potential users of the code, and they are afraid that if they freely share the source code (which is generally not pretty or clean) they will be found lacking. Additionally, the lack of sharing in my area happens because of a big bad dragon (let’s just say a very difficult colleague) being very territorial about the existing dissemination resources; as the resources exist, it is hard to get money to develop new ones for free dissemination, yet the existing ones are basically under siege. Maybe I will just start posting source code on my group website with a disclaimer: Use “as is” and don’t bug us if you can’t. It’s free; how much user support do you expect?

3. It is starting to fully dawn on me just how much travel I have next year. It’s a lot. There are 9 trips I already know of. Ugh.

At least I got to lie low, sort of, this semester. But the time has come to pay the piper.

I spent a lot of time last night booking flights, paying registration (I am nowhere near done). Now all those receipts have to be submitted to accounting with appropriate justifications.
And of course once I am done with all of trips, reimbursement has to be filed.

Isn’t it awesome that PhDs get to spend many hours of their time doing travel booking and reimbursement? No need to hire administrative assistants when professors can do this work at no extra cost. Next, PhDs empty trash cans and clean the toilets at the university, then take over facilities management and do all the repairs themselves. This is an excellent use of their professional qualifications and as a side benefit no one has to hire cleaners or skilled repairmen. Imagine the savings!