Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What I like about research conferences

They force us all to look in the mirror. It's hard to fake it, when you might meet the same people each year. Some are on an exponential trajectory, others linear, others are backsliding. But these conferences show this all in stark relief. Examples:

Someone saw a presentation I was in and said "gee I thought that'd be a nice question to answer, but I can see its been answered." But if the presenter doesn't send it to a journal he'll miss the real chance. Note to self.

A person I know who said "yeh you'll get insecure if you're standing still and I know that because for the last year I've stood still"

I watched for a distance a person who thought they were going to write a PhD on a given topic and thinks that having "stern chats" to other people is going to stake out their territory. Sorry honey - doing the work will stake out the territory.

We all have up years and down years. Without the "self check" mechanism of meeting our colleagues we can convince ourselves that we are doing OK. If we make choices to spend less effort on our research in favour of teaching, family, or other pursuits we should at least have the honesty to recognise the price we pay as we see our colleagues excel.

Easily said. It takes some gumption in the doing, though.

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