Stocks and bonds, Writing and outreach

I had an idea.  Follow me, here:

For academic careers, writing is like investing in stocks.  Outreach and translational research are like investing in bonds.

Stocks and writing:  Get lots while you’re young.  You need to write prolifically enough to get tenure, and gain the national or international reputation you need for those outside letters.  Spread your name, become known in your field.  Start early.  Because the return is uncertain, put a lot of writing out there in the world (and buy stocks).  Stocks are a good investment when you have a long timeline until retirement; you have time to weather the ups-and-downs of the market and can have a higher tolerance for risk, in exchange for possibly higher returns.

Bonds and outreach/translation:  These are more effective when you’re older.  When you’re more experienced in your field, you have more experience and a reputation that you can leverage for influence.  Research-wise, you’ve got a better idea of what works and what’s worth developing further, as well as potential pitfalls and objections.  You also know people who can help spread your ideas.  You may have more time to devote to making the world a better place.  When you’re closer to retirement, you also want the safety and security of bonds: potentially lower return, but steady.

In financial investing, as in an academic career, you’ll need a balance and variety throughout your life.  You might want to be doing both of these things (and more!) at all times, but in varying ratios.  Diversify and rebalance your portfolio and life.

This idea: off the wall, or right on target?  Tell me, Grumpeteers.

Where do I get my research ideas?

This year I have been giving an awful lot of talks.  Along with these talks, I’ve been meeting with a lot of graduate grad students during my visit.  A  common question I get when I meet with a group of students (you know, the ones with free time) is how I get my research ideas.  This usually comes from students who are floundering without a dissertation topic.  I thought I’d write up my answer.

  1. First, I get ideas from my contrarian nature.  Perhaps it’s my math training, but I am always looking for a counter-example, I am always questioning statements taken to be true.  My own job market paper topic, in fact, was a reaction from a statement one of my professors had made in a second-year class that struck me as possibly not true and when I looked into it, I found very little research on the topic.  I figured out how to test it better than the one or two previous papers, and voila, an amazing paper.
  2. Another place to get ideas that haven’t been worked on over and over is to think about your own unique experiences.  This can be something as broad as thinking about your own female perspective on sexist things that your male-dominated field takes for granted (ex. all the new research coming out showing that women aren’t irrational, they’re just working under different constraints) or as specific as a public program that not many people know about but you know lots about because your grandfather was on it.  You have lots of unique things that you bring to your discipline.  Think about what they are.  Think about who you know.  Look at the broader world around you and question it.
  3. It is ok to start out feeling like you keep coming up with ideas that have already been done– when I started out, it seemed like when I started the lit review I’d find that the exact paper I wanted to write had been written 10 years ago.  But my next idea had been published 3 years ago.  And the one after that, maybe just out.  Eventually I started coming up with ideas that were working papers.  And then new papers.  You may also find yourself in the situation where you’re half done with a paper and it seems like you’ve just been scooped– but you haven’t been really– it is unlikely your paper is identical to this other one and if it is, you can still change things, pursue different directions, answer some things better, etc. to differentiate it.  You want to be working in a hot field because it means your question is important.  See if you can create conference panels with this other paper.
  4. It gets a lot easier once you’ve gotten immersed.  After you’ve started a project, you start realizing there are huge gaps in the literature– things you really need to know now in order to fully answer your question but that are themselves their own projects.  You’ll also come up with new questions that your project has provided you… if this is true, then why this other thing?
  5. If you don’t do a perfect job, that means future people will fill in the gaps in your literature later!  It’s kind of exciting seeing people do a better job than you did because they are taking your paper as a starting point.  You know, so long as they cite you.

Where do you get your ideas?  What advice would you give current graduate students looking for inspiration?

Part 4 of writing series: Hope

This part’s about treating writer’s block and being more productive.

Here are the other parts of the series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

What follows is a series of chunks from a paper I wrote for a class.  If you’re my boss or co-worker (or mom), please don’t tell anybody my secret identity  :-) 

The paper is about a topic near and dear to us here on this blog: how to be a more productive writer.  These sections are mostly unedited, but some parts have been snipped out for snappier reading (hahaha!).

Text behind the cut, for lengthiness.  (snerk.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Part 3 of Writing Productivity Series (prevalence)

Here are the first parts of the series: Part 1, Part 2Part 4 is next.

What follows is a series of chunks from a paper I wrote for a class.  If you’re my boss or co-worker (or mom), please don’t tell anybody my secret identity  :-) 

The paper is about a topic near and dear to us here on this blog: how to be a more productive writer.  These sections are mostly unedited, but some parts have been snipped out for snappier reading (hahaha!).

 

Text behind the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

Part 2 of Writing Productivity: Quick starters

Part 1 is herePart 3 is herePart 4.

What follows is a series of chunks from a paper I wrote for a class.  If you’re my boss or co-worker (or mom), please don’t tell anybody my secret identity  :-)

The paper is about a topic near and dear to us here on this blog: how to be a more productive writer.

These sections are mostly unedited [they could use it but this is a blog post], but some parts have been snipped out for snappier reading (hahaha!).

In part 1 I talked about what ‘writer’s block’ might be.  In part 2, I discuss its opposite.  It’s behind the cut (for length).

Read the rest of this entry »

Part 1 of a series: Writing productivity

Hey, a series!  Wow, it’s gonna be terrific.  Starring everybody, and me!

Part 2Part 3.

What follows is a series of chunks from a paper I wrote for a thing.  If you’re my boss or co-worker (or mom), please don’t tell anybody my secret identity  :-)

The paper is about a topic near and dear to us here on this blog: how to be a more productive writer.  Stay tuned for lit review extravaganza.

These sections are mostly unedited, but some parts have been snipped out for snappier reading (hahaha!).

Because these are so long, they’re behind a cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

Live-blogging my cyber security awareness training

an IM chat with my partner.

ME: and now, for sauce, an hour-long video training on ‘cyber security awareness’.
WHY WHY WHY are there so many videos I HATE VIDEO TRAININGS
just write down the things that everyone under 50 knows, and it’ll take 5 minutes to read.

[#2 notes that Grumpy Rumblings does not endorse tired age stereotypes about technology knowledge or lack thereof.  Workers over 50 ALSO know this stuff.]

PARTNER: not all employees are under 50 :)

ME: “Don’t answer phishing emails” DURRRRR
durrrrrrrrrrrr
don’t share passwords durrrrrrrrrrr
Partner, did u know that phishing emails are common?
This ‘cyber attacker’ is wearing google glasses

PARTNER: they do that!
ME: do they???
PARTNER: no

ME: hey if a stranger calls u on the phone and tells u that ur computer is infected and u need to go buy this software to fix it… durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
“Simply hang up the phone or ignore the email.” This is some quality sh*t.

PARTNER: well, taunting them wouldn’t be very professional

ME: hey another unit about email
DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENT
also the ‘cyber attacker’ is a man of course
o wait, this one’s a woman– also wearing google glass

here’s a hint: your bank’s not going to ‘deactivate’ your account.

This envelope is vibrating. I wouldn’t open that.
“Browsers are one of the primary ways we interact with the internet.”

PARTNER: good to know
ME: right?

“Should you heed security warnings?” gee what a hard quiz

“social networking websites are one of the most exciting technologies on the internet!”
this is definitely written BY 60-year-olds, FOR 60-year-olds.
oh no that guy got a fishing hook through his FACE

[#2:  See above disclaimer.  60 year olds who work have gone through more of these security trainings than #1 has.  They are aware of social networking.]

PARTNER: ow
ME: your friend doesn’t actually need you to wire money to him in Romania
PARTNER: I dunno, sometimes my friend is in Romania
ME: and they can only contact you via facebook?
PARTNER: well, probably not.

ME: also this video has bad grammar.
ooooh kidnapping your child, that’s definitely the item choice I’m picking.
I thought we were going to learn about encryption there for a minute, but no. That would be much harder than “don’t click that link, yo”
“Not only can you call anyone IN THE WORLD” using your cell phone… go figure.

PARTNER: well, usually I can’t call you, actually.  [This is because #1 is the only person left in the US without a cell phone.]
ME: in the WORLD, Partner.
hahahaha “never jailbreak your own phone”

PARTNER: then teh haXX0Rz will pwnz you!
ME: don’t go to http://www.EvilAntiVirus.com — I bet you shouldn’t click on that link
PARTNER: Firefox can’t establish a connection to the server at http://www.evilantivirus.com
ME: sad
the section on passwords promises hilarity
oooh passphrases. Use numbers in place of letters. Are you listening, 60-year-olds? [#2:  60 year olds probably have as many passwords as the rest of us non 60-year olds]
PARTNER:  31337!
the password ‘p4$$w0rd’ is totally uncrackable!
ME: hey don’t use your banking password for youtube
PARTNER: but then how will I remember my youtube password?
ME:  o noes
never share your password, Partner. It is a SECRET.

PARTNER: Keep it secret. Keep it safe.
ME: Enable “Hobbit-level” security.
Don’t send important secret work information to your personal email

PARTNER: but how will I get it home?
ME: Don’t log in as root unless you need to…
this guy seems to have an RFID chip embedded in his clavicle
that seems… not-ideal
PARTNER: ow

ME: don’t install software that has the Jolly Roger on it.

PARTNER: but I really liked Assassin’s Creed 4
ME: me too!
“These steps should be applied in a way that is consistent with our policies.” no, really?
argh, grammar.
hey that loud-ass bird is back, the one that likes to sit outside our window and look at us. What’s up, loud bird?

PARTNER: tweet
ME:  “Which of the following is a typical step that an attacker will take after compromising a system?

A. Installing Microsoft Office on your system.”
ha!

“If you believe your system has been compromised, you should: A. Continue using the system so the attacker does not become suspicious” — YES, YES, pick that one

WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY

This data management policy is laid out like a football play. Am I the running back or the tight end?

“We hope you enjoyed your security awareness training.”  NOPE.

PARTNER: thaT DOES NOT CHANGE THEIR HOPE THOUGH

ME: hahahaha
“Remember, our goal is not to scare you from using the internet.”
“Technology is a tremendous tool that enables you to accomplish amazing things.”  Ok, Grandma.  [#2:  Most grandmas are well aware of facebook and skype etc.]

[end.]

Later, my co-worker started the same online training and spontaneously burst into giggles.  “Welcome to the 21st Century?” she asked.  “It gets worse,”  I told her.

#2 notes that her IT training just switched to slow and stupid.  No skipping to the quiz anymore.  No just reading the slides and fast forwarding them.  Nope, you cannot move ahead until they’re done talking.   And it’s an hour and a half with a huge amount of useless prologue.  UGH.  So, of course, instead of actually paying attention, I’m just letting it run on my secondary monitor, clicking next whenever I notice a slide has finished (there are ~150 slides).  If they want me to learn something, this is not the way to go about it.

What’s the dumbest training you’ve been to?  How can we all be less ageist?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 325 other followers