I have recently noticed some fatalism among some of our junior colleagues–post-docs and recently independent PIs–concerning their prospects of completing “interesting” projects and getting them published in top journals, either field-specific or C/N/S-level. For example, Sciencewoman recently posted about her feelings of inadequacy triggered by a more junior colleagues recent publication in a C/N/S-level journal:

Why is it that the other guy is getting a very high profile paper and I’m struggling to get results that will merit publication at all?

And her first answer (among others) was as follows:

He’s luckier than me. He got a project that worked.

The take home message of this DrugMonkey post is that “luck”–whatever the fuck that word even means–is only one factor among many. And the other factors are much more within the control of the scientist. To see what these factors are, and how to take control of them, jump below the fold. (Also below the fold is an update that addresses management of multiple projects to diversify risk/reward.)

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