Sunday, August 20, 2006

August Does Not Really Exist

It's deep August -- the one month during which I am paid neither by my university or by my grants (max = 2 months in summer), and therefore the month in which I am particularly reminded of several things: (1) I (and, I think, most professors) don't do this for the money, and (2) That doesn't mean I want to do any department committee work, field emails from students about next term's classes, or do other things that could be dealt with in September when the term starts and when my daughter is back in school and when I am supposed to deal with things like that. Yet the latter activities are more than looming. They are here.

Last week I was very pleased to learn that a male colleague of mine at another university feels similarly oppressed about being asked to do lots of departmental tasks just because he's organized and efficient. He is often told that his other colleagues are 'too busy', as if he isn't. In fact, his other colleagues are just less able to balance everything. I think it might not be a coincidence that this colleague is a single dad and has probably had to learn to balance everything, and he got so extremely good at it that he always seems to have time for just one more task.

Meanwhile, I am doing the final checking and rechecking of a manuscript that came back from review and is ready for final submission. One of my students is first author, but his idea of finishing a manuscript clearly doesn't involve running a spellchecker, making sure all the references, figures, and tables are in order, and so on. This is one of those times that makes me feel old because I can't help thinking "When I was a graduate student...". [I would sooner have stuck thumbtacks in my eyes than have my advisor do this much editing work on a manuscript.] But I'd rather just get it done and do it well than hand it back to my student yet again for another stab at punctuation, verbs, and logical ordering of text and figures. It's a good thing it's still August and I have lots of time for this.

1 comment:

Ms.PhD said...

This student sounds like me. I'm terrible at editing my own stuff, and I'm neither a detail person nor a perfectionist. When I've been looking at something too long, the words just swim before my eyes.

I know this, but I haven't figured out a way around it, besides trying to learn to be more of a perfectionist out of sheer career necessity. But it doesn't come naturally to me at all.

So, try not to expect your student to be a clone of you. Everybody's different.

I'm sure your styles compliment each other more than either of you currently realizes. Looking back, my advisor and I fought endlessly over wording and what data to include. And although our work, like everyone's, was flawed, in retrospect we made a pretty good team. To bad we were too busy annoying each other to realize that until after I graduated!