Sunday, April 25, 2010

TIme to get down and dirty...

There was an interesting post in the blog sphere a few weeks ago (which I can't seem to find at the moment) about when you know it's time to start writing up a manuscript.  If you have read any of my last blog post, you know that I have been frantically trying to finish data for not one, but two manuscripts which Big Boss Man wants to submit to somewhat impressive (at least in the broad definition of our field journal) back-to-back, which hopefully will be published back-to-back-to-back* with the manuscript from frantic collaborator since all three papers deal with the same enzyme.

Last week I finished** the data for manuscript #2 and have just a few more experiments for manuscript #3 which can easily be finished in the early part of next week.  I have been reading and reading and reading in the down time between experiments and have most of the background/intro already formulated in my brain.

So, how do I know it's time to sit down and write these damn papers?  Because they are all I have been thinking about.  On the bus, in the shower, laying in bed at night, even during conversations over lunch.  When it becomes obsessive and all I can think about, then it is time to purge my brain onto the paper.

One small problem, though, which is keeping me from sitting down with the laptop is that I need to come up with the models, derive the equations and do the data fitting.  Not that I mind, in fact this is one of the reasons why I choose this field.  There is something so elegant and extremely satisfying when your model and therefore the system can be described by simple mathematical equations.  Show me the numbers.  Even so, the task is somewhat daunting and sometimes my intuitive sense for what is going to work does not work.  While frustrating in the beginning and sometimes slow to get going, it is my favorite part of the whole thing.

While I am by no means one of the great writers of the century, I do enjoy writing manuscripts (even though I curse myself and the data and all while doing so.) It is my chance to put my spin on things.  I like hunting through the literature to see if there is any scrap of previously published data that may further support our claims, I love making sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.  Maybe I am a closet masochist.

So, today on this wonderful glorious, rainy cold Sunday, I will embark on the model-making and the equation deriving armed only with a legal pad, a pot of coffee, a pencil, my data and my worn copy of Segel's Rapid equilibrium system.  I hope to make it through relatively unscathed, but I know that tears, frustrations, and such are inevitable.  As long as I can get all this craziness out of my head and onto the paper, though, it is worth it.

*This was something that he (Big Boss Man) and others did in the early days--while frowned upon now, I think that he may have enough pull with the editor's to push this through this way.  It's not that the papers wouldn't stand up on their own, more that they tell three highly intertwined stories, but as one massive paper we are looking at around 30 pages in the journal....

**Finished is a highly relative term- finished in that I can tell the story without resorting to major, major hand-waving--although each experiment brings up several new questions, as some point I have to draw a line for these things-they are already going to be the manuscripts from hell to write--a ton of data with a ton of side-stories, etc.

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meyerprints said...
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