Back in November 2011, Anne performed an experiment. Anne wanted to see if being publicly accountable for my writing progress would get me to my goal of a paper submission before AGU. She didn’t quite make it, but that month of weekly check-ins and progress reports on the blog did get her a lot closer to that paper being drafted than she would have been without the #sciwrite challenge. More than 40 other blog readers also participated in the challenge, and at least a few actually got manuscripts and theses submitted in that month. Ever since #sciwrite, we’ve been thinking that we need to do it again.
If we’ve learned anything in our careers as academic scientists, it’s been the following:
- Writing is the major metric of professional success and is the only way of making neat results in the field and lab into something useful for others.
- All that academic advice about how writing every day is the only sustainable path to getting things done turns out to be true. Darn it.
- Yet writing tasks can easily and repeatedly slip to the bottom of the to-do list because they don’t have the same urgency of deadlines imposed on them like teaching, review assignments, and the crush of email.
- Loop back to #1.
With the idea that a little public accountability never hurt anyone, and that maybe having a community of people all going through the same writing process at the same time could actually help make life better, we’d like to introduce February 2014 as #sciwrite v 2.0. For the next four weeks, we’ll be committing to writing every day and sharing our goals and progress here on the blog on a weekly basis. We’d love it if other people joined us.
- Two extended abstracts, shortly followed by two posters for the CUAHSI/USGS workshop on laser specs in hydrology. Abstracts are due February 17th, posters are due the 24th, and a virtual poster session will be held on February 28th. I’m the lead on one poster, and an undergraduate student is the lead on the other.
- For a paper in which the setting, methods, and results are already written, I’m going to make publication-ready figures, and write the introduction, discussion, and conclusions, with the help of a co-author.
- For a paper in which my co-authors and I endlessly tinker and improve, I’m going to finalize my piece of the results and get the introduction written. More if possible.
- My big goal is finally finishing the big New Zealand tectonics paper that I have started, tinkered with, restarted, and then let lapse again for rather longer than I care to admit. Let’s just say that if I achieve my target of getting a completed first draft to my co-author by the end of the month, they’ll probably die of shock. It’s a challenging goal, so I’d be happy with ‘substantially completed’.
- I also want to write an internal grant application, due in the first week in March, for funding to substantially improve my Geophysics course before I have to teach it next.
If you are interested in participating in #sciwrite this month, leave a comment below with your goals, and if you’re on twitter, use the #sciwrite hashtag to share your progress. Then check in on the blog every Saturday for more encouragement.