Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Politics of Writing a Paper

There are two conferences that really matter for what I am studying. The problem is that the deadlines for both of these are a week apart. This meant that everyone was spending every hour they had to get either results or paper done by the deadline.
I had been working on the intranet for the group so much and had run into so many problems that my own research had not had my attention it needed. Just as I was getting started my advisor told me instead of trying to submit my own paper I would instead help someone else to submit their paper.
I emailed out to co-workers and only one emailed back that he needed help. So I moved over to temporarily sit in the desk right next to his. The problem: the co-author of the paper was someone that no matter what I tried did not like me (based on me delaying his experiment when I first started my PhD). So it went, I asked multiple times a day how I could help, what I could work on, what I could contribute to the paper. Only to find out the writer I was sitting next to had stopped by the other guy's office and had ended up having a meeting without me so the direction changed and I went through the whole process of asking questions again.
I came up with ideas that got past major hurdles that was stopping significant results, programmed where I could, and wrote or corrected the paper through every revision. I knew that the co-writer was talking bad about me behind my back but I felt like if I did everything I could he would see I had contributed, change his tune, and bury his grudge.
In the end though, I felt like I could have got more done had I worked on my own paper. There was a lot of time I spent puttering with nothing to do. Since the only time I was being included in meeting was when I staked out  offices or jump up when I noticed the writer wasn't sitting next to me for to long. I tried talking to the co-writer. But to my face he said he didn't have any problems and denied saying anything about me even when my advisor confirmed he had been talking to him.
So I did the best I could in the situation I was stuck in. I was glad when the paper was done and I could go back to working on my own research. A lot of other people in the office still had the later deadline so for the next week there were still no one in the office. After that we all went out and enjoyed a nice dinner at a Chinese restaurant and I ended up spending more on on meal (£20) than I had spent while living in London.

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