On polite discourse in mixed company

January 14, 2011

There are certain things I have recently been informed that it is improper to discuss in mixed company.
So I’ll put the rest of the discussion after the jump.


One of the great things about the semi-anonymous / pseudonymous science careers internet community is that one gets to rub elbows with people at different career levels a little bit more freely. One can get a little more into career-level frictions because the discussions aren’t quite so personally risky. Trainees can spout all kinds of angst they’d rather not express to their PIs. PP and I get to blow off some mentor steam now and again that we’d never load on our actual trainees. Etc.
So that’s a good thing.
OTOH, it is inevitable that whilst we are rubbing elbows with our internet friends that there are going to be…..awkward topics.
Many of our good blog friends are junior scientists who are *extremely* anxious about getting their first faculty level appointment. So is it really not going to be all that cool for those of us who are already faculty to whinge about minutia like 2% either way on our annual raises, the size or corner-ness of our offices, etc. And of course it is way out of bounds to complain about the screwing we get at the Bentley dealership, knowhatimsayin PP?
Others of our good blog friends are junior faculty who are *extremely* anxious about landing their first major research grant award. So again, not so cool for the more fortunate among us to go on about how hard it is to land that 4th R01, amirite? Or other minor frustrations about grant management or award that our junior colleagues are dying to have to “suffer”.
Anyway, congratulations to all those out there with fantastic grant scores or recent awards who can’t brag about their accomplishments in mixed company on the internet. You know who you are. Fantastic job, well done!

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19 Responses to “On polite discourse in mixed company”

  1. Fandangle Says:

    Um, do you work down the hall from me? Just had one of these conversations this morning (but not on the Internets).

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  2. DrugMonkey Says:

    Perhaps I do, perhaps I do….

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  3. Fandangle Says:

    Meet me at the copier in 5 minutes — and snap your fingers.

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  4. We print out our summary statements like giant presentation posters and post them on the walls outside our labs so that as the “littles” pass by, they know where to stop in and kiss the ring.

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  5. pinus Says:

    congrats to whomever got something good!

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  6. Gingerale Says:

    Ditto comment #5!

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  7. mikka Says:

    Count me among those *extremely* anxious about getting their first faculty level appointment. Exactly in what recesses of the internet do you discuss the current situation, whine about “extremely impressed with your CV but bugger off now” letters and exchange interview tips? Any suggestions?

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  8. DrugMonkey Says:

    Well one place would be Dr Becca’s Fumbling Toward Tenure Track blog…
    Arlenna’s K99 forum, perhaps
    PhysioProf occasionally has interviewing tips here and on his own blog, google chalk talk and PhysioProf

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  9. mikka Says:

    thanks DM, sorry for the OT and congrats to the PI mentioned in the OP!

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  10. antagonista Says:

    psst. some people just like to give the RealJobHavinMotherfuckers a hard time simply because it can be done, not because of any hard feelings over well earned accomplishments.
    /justsayin

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  11. Congrats to You Know Who You Are!!!!!

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  12. Dr Becca Says:

    Thanks for the plug, DM!
    To Mikka and anyone else on the TT market, I just created a page on my blog that aggregates lots of good job search advice from around the blogosphere over the last few years. I hope you find it useful!

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  13. DrugMonkey Says:

    Hey, great idea Dr. Becca! Thanks for collecting the links in one place.
    antagonista- I know. but trust me, hard feelings over grant or career successes are real and can be a difficult thing. from all sides.
    mikka- there is very little that is off topic enough for me to worry about. in this case there ended up being a good answer provided by the academic blogosphere (curated by Dr Becca) to which you got pointed.
    GR- why do I feel certain that, if not your lab, there is some PI out there somewhere who does exactly this….

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  14. I was joking, but I have seen a PI before print out their summary scores and hand them out to other TT and tenured faculty as a example of a good grant score.

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  15. DrugMonkey Says:

    I have seen a PI before print out their summary scores and hand them out to other TT and tenured faculty as a example of a good grant score.
    Well, that’s a little different. I view this as good mentoring within the department. The more summary statements and associated grant proposals that newer investigators can read, the better for their own grant preparation.
    Of course I’ve also ranted about how this process can go wrong if Year 2 faculty look at what happens to Year 20 faculty member’s grants and don’t apply the appropriate lens filters for career status…

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  16. Sorry I should have clarified, they handed these things out unsolicited. My boss, a tenured prof, look at it, tossed it in the trash and considered it to be showboating of their good score.

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  17. DrugMonkey Says:

    they handed these things out unsolicited.
    HAHHA, yeah, that is kind of a jerk move.

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  18. blinds Says:

    Hahahah. so true I must say I am a bit of a bragger… 😦

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  19. Haggis MRI Says:

    I am a lowly 1st year neuroimaging post-doc on a T32, so I certainly appreciate such consideration from the higher-ups. My *extremely anxious* button at the moment is deciding when and how to apply for a K99. If I can get that, I can then worry about whether or not my portfolio is engaging enough to get a TT position at some place besides Western Missouri State Bible College.

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