Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What drives your productivity?

I was asked the other day by a colleague why/how I remain productive in this uneasy climate of limited funding/university support. My university would have been more than happy with 1-2 papers every other year instead of the typical 3-4 per year that I produce. One reason for my productivity is that I am really into my study organism (rove beetles) and that helps push things along. But, wait,  there is more: rejections. Somehow they fuel my productivity flame. I am not sure how many scientists are willing to admit this, but I am sure it is rather common. So here is an acknowledgement you will never see me writing in a paper but should be present in all of them: 

I thank the grant agencies, the journals and the institutions that have rejected me over the years. I could not have accomplished half of what I have done without those rejections.

Or as David Hull put it much more elegantly in the book Science as a process: 'Scientists acknowledge that among their motivations are natural curiosity, the love of truth, and the desire to help humanity, but other inducements exist as well, and one of them is to “get that son of a bitch”'.