Academic Writing: That Feeling You Get When…

I did it! I’ve completed my paper! It’s so exciting to reach a culmination in one’s work. It feels like you are at the top of the world. Well, almost. As you may recall, I’ve been tackling a profound issue as a side initiative at work. A few years ago, I became interested in concepts relating to the technologies that are being developed that may be directly¬† integrated with our bodies and help us perform more effectively than we otherwise would be able to. You’ll probably already have heard about cybernetics, and gene therapy, so it should be no surprise that very smart people are working on making the stuff of science fiction reality.

I am looking at a very specific subset of¬† this technology and its ethical implications. In the process of exploring the topic, I’ve had the opportunity to share ideas with some of the leading minds in the field, which has been a great experience. I feel I’ve even helped develop some new ideas that should help move the field forward.

And this is where I get back to the “almost done” part of this entry. It doesn’t matter how great a paper is, until it gets published in a peer-reviewed journal, it doesn’t mean very much. I’ve found the journal I want to submit it to, but now have to modify seventy-plus references to comply with a text format that is slightly different from what I had been using. Strangely, this seems more daunting a task than the months I’ve spent reading into the topic, digesting the ideas and writing the manuscript. Yet, it must be done if I am to submit the paper.

The devil is in the details!

Advertisements

You know that feeling you get when you’ve been scooped?

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been pretty quiet for the past several days. It’s because I’ve been busy little bee working away at a paper that I was hoping would open the debate to revolutionary concepts and disruptive technologies relevant to my desk-jockey day job. I’ve been examining the ethical considerations of applied transhumanism, and its impact on the future fabric of society. Pretty nifty, eh?

I’m honoured to be able to work in an environment that allows me to think about such things as a side venture to my primary duties, particularly as it’s been itching away at the back of my mind for the past four years. I’d been talking the talk for a while, but finally decided to put pen to paper back in March and had finally completed all of my research and my first draft early last week. I sent the draft out to some trusted advisers and scientific authorities I have had the pleasure of working with in the past. Everyone agreed that I had come up with some pretty groundbreaking material. I was starting to feel very proud of myself.

This morning, one of my scientific advisers sent me a paper published this January that I had not previously been aware of. It covers my topic in stunning detail. The thought processes, arguments, and conclusions are remarkably similar. In a way, I found it reassuring to know that I’ve been on the right track, and that little ol’ me has derived a similar analysis to some folks that are likely far wiser than I am or at the very least who have spent a considerable amount of time and effort examining this particular issue. In another, I’ve just been scooped and all the work I’ve put in needs to be revised, since I need to ensure that I am adding value to the debate, and not simply spouting off what has already been resolved. It’s not quite back to square one, but I definitely need to give credit where it’s due, since the authors of this most recent study appear to have wired the case I was making shut, and have opened up a whole new series of questions I was going to examine at a later time.

Face palm. Totally appropriate response to this morning’s news. Image source: Flickr

Yep. Someone else already thought of it.

This is by no means a failure, but it does force me to go back and put more thought into a subject I’ve been examining for a while. Ultimately, this is a great thing for all involved. I’d better get back to it, before I find out that someone has figured out the next set of solutions before I get to write them down!

I never needed to upgrade my paperback

My wife owns a Kobo reader. She loves it, and yet she hates it. It inexplicably locks up from time to time. My best guess at this point is it’s Kobo’s way to tell her to plug the ebook back into a computer for a software update. Once we’ve tenderly ministered to its outdated firmware, the book appears to work fine again. Occasionally, it also runs out of batteries, that is to be expected of any electronic device.

I guess the technology is progress, but I never had to worry about my physical book not wanting to play on any given day wrecking my plans for its enjoyment. Manufacturers will have to increase the reliability of these devices if publishers also plan on phasing out paper copies of their books.

My 2 cents.