Powerful Answers to Imposter Syndrome

Dec 15 2017 Published by under Uncategorized

One of the most powerful antidotes to Imposter Syndrome is actually doing something well. Or, better yet having someone else acknowledge that you have done something well.

We are all hugely sensitive (well, maybe not quite all of us) to the false "yes, lovely" that comes from people who haven't read the manuscript or were texting on their phone throughout one's entire presentation. You know: the review that is one paragraph that says "this is a great paper, and they just need to change this one line in the methods". And its obvious the reviewer just went looking for something to object to, so it didn't look like they hadn't read the paper, which of course, they hadn't. Or that person who you know wasn't paying attention and then says at the end "great talk" (we would all like to be John Tukey, who famously did crossword puzzles through seminars but always had a great question to ask at the end. Yes, Tukey comparisons Tukey. But we're not. Put that damn phone down.).

Recently, I had a paper come back from review. It is a good paper. I knew it was. But I would still go to bed at night thinking: it's horrible. it's irrelevant. no one will appreciate it. Although, to be fair, this latter is frequently true despite quality of content.

The two reviews of this manuscript each vied to be Reviewer Three. Each review was about 2 single-spaced pages long full of, by turns, insightful and irritating comments about what was wrong and needed to be fixed. What mattered was not that one of them didn't get it and that the other was very very picky. I will slog through making the changes. What mattered were a couple of things embedded in the reviews. Rev 1:

The premise of this study is of great interest. The contribution of the sensory and motor aspects of the hopping nerve to locomotion execution is an important question and would make an important contribution to the literature. 

And later on in this review:

I believe the authors are capable of filling in the necessary details to help readers place the significance of these findings into the larger picture of swallowing sensorimotor controls.

Of course there is the start to the second review:

Overall this was a weak manuscript for several reasons. 

Kill me now and put me out of my misery. But here is how Rev 2 ended the review:

Overall if a major revision of this manuscript were done as suggested, the results could have importance to the field. Certainly, the bunny hopping model is original and these data are only available from this laboratory.

A few small bits embedded in each review that spent pages detailing the failures of the study. Yet they made a difference. Two people, who judging by their concerns are working on human hopping and coming at the question from very different ways that my lab does, thought there was something redemptive in this paper. So did the AE who didn't just reject it. I've had better and more positive reviews where the editor says: don't bother resubmitting, and by the way you are a useless piece of draff (points if you get the scifi reference).

It's my task for the next two weeks to try and make some of the changes (moar tables! more figures! more discussion!) and answer the rest. I can only read they critiques for so long before I either get depressed or angry or hungry. It's a small thing to give honest praise, but it's the small things that keep us going.



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