Day: January 7, 2015

Random Bits of Technical Writing

* I am working on a paper that I think has the potential to be a really big deal. It’s so awesome! I am so excited to finish it and submit it that I literally can’t sleep. I sometimes (probably more often than I care to admit) feel like I’m falling in love when it comes to papers or proposals, with butterflies in the stomach from all the anticipation. I can’t get my darling paper out of my head, I keep thinking of the softness of its curves, the color of its data markers, the size of its axis labels… *sigh* …Maybe I need a cold shower.

* There is a colleague whom I met a year or so ago in person, but whose work I have known for a bit longer. His work is technically good, but the papers are not. For some reason, he just can’t write a compelling  narrative or choose the best examples to support the premise. Whenever I read one of his papers, I am thinking — dude, you could have done so much more with this, and there’s always a let-down, a feeling of disappointment when I am done. In the past year or two I have received several of his papers to review, all in lowerish-tier journals; obviously, I am on his preferred-referee list. The first N times (N=3 or 4) I accepted, then tried hard to give detailed constructive advice and feedback. But recently I received his paper N+1, I looked over it and I just couldn’t do it. It’s bad, it’s too little, and the figures look awful. I don’t have time for this, so I declined to review. I would like to help, but I don’t think I am helping through constructive refereeing. He would really benefit from some serious coaching, but he’s not my (or anyone else’s) student or postdoc. I am not sure what to do, probably nothing.