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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

More Advice From (And To) Academics

In the last few days, I've come across a number of very good pieces by academics that either list their own New Year's resolutions or provide information/advice about being an academic.

First, while checking my links on Technorati, I came across a new blog called Vegreville. He says he started the blog in order to be able to comment on Mike Munger's advice on publishing (boy, that post of Munger's has hit home with a lot of people). He posts some pretty good resolutions. Here are the ones I particularly like that should be followed by just about everyone in our pointy-headed tribe:
  • Make sure to have at least three manuscripts under review at all times
  • Get referee reports done quickly
  • Spend more time thinking about topics that you think are important, and that you have comparative advantage with. Stop 'chasing the herd.'
  • Spend some more time commenting on other people's papers when they send them to you.
  • Enjoy being and academic - it's a pretty fun job
  • Remember that output matters, not input.
Click here for the whole piece. Vegreville's got more resolutions, but these are pretty good - particularly the first and last ones. He also says that he plans on reporting his progress on these items on a regular basis. Since I've said I'd do the same, hold him (and me) to it, and harass us if we don't.

In addition, Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution talks about "type B procrastination", which occurs when you piddle away time by working on tasks that really aren't that important. My favorite "type B" activity is making minor tweaks to my Powerpoint slides that really don't add anything when I should be doing research (and let's not forget blogging...). Tyler also recommends an essay by Richard Hamming titled You and Your Research. In it, Hamming suggests three questions we should all be asking ourseles on a regular basis:
    1. What are the most important problems in your field?
    2. Are you working on one of them?
    3. Why not?
Ah well, since I've done my "type B" procrastination for the morning, it's time to do something productive.

Pay no attention to the screams coming from the Unknown Basement (a.k.a. the BatCave). It's just the data being tortured...

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