August 30, 2007

Scientists love them some data and love them some log books. Which came first? Chicken or egg?

I think the first computer program I ever wrote was a log program to keep track of rides as a teenager.  It was rudimentary and I never kept up with it; I switched to paper logs in the racing years. I’ve used The Athlete’s Diary for some time now, even though my workouts come in long-interrupted waves. Thirteen rides in the past 17 days though, thank you for asking.
At this point it isn’t really about the motivational obsession although there is a role for that. As in, “Oh no, I can’t have a week with zero hours graphed!” is not to be dismissed for those of us who have a hard time fitting working-out into our job/home/kids schedules. The thing is that with all of the aforementioned busyness, I just can’t remember a damn thing and workouts come way down the list. So how to know if you’ve been overdoing it? How long *has* that knee been throbbing after rides? Why do I feel so dead on the bike? Ahh, when was the last time I did a genuine “just spinning for 30 min” ride? etc. So logging for me tends to motivate *not* working out just as much as it does doing another ride.

A prior post was all about training intensity. This one is to remind that there is great value in rest, backing off and very light workouts on a regular basis.

In a recent post, YoungFemaleScientist opines:

as a postdoc, you’re essentially a PI with most of the drawbacks and none of the benefits. You’re frequently on your own, but they get to claim they’re training you. You’re basically doing everything yourself, but they get to be senior author on your paper and put your work in their grants. Etc. etc.

See Thus Spake Zuska discussing an offhand PI quote in a LA Times 4-parter on a neuroscience lab in which it was suggested that grad students are “cannon fodder”. These comments are also supported by a recent Nature piece on trainees as indentured servants of their PIs. These types of comments (and indeed much more of the attitude to be found on YoungFemaleScientist blog) reflect the disgruntled post-doc and disgruntled grad student mindset on “exploitation”. This is a common theme, inevitably cited as a reason for all that is wrong with this “business”. There is some truth to the complaint, of course. But the PI is not always the bad guy and sometimes “exploitation” is actually the voice of experience trying to help the trainee’s career. We’ll start with the hit-em-hard: Read the rest of this entry »