Bells, Offices & Rejection

I can’t admit to having had a good morning so far; the fire alarm was being test continuously for over 30 minutes when I first got in, my emails are down and I have a long day of meetings in front of me!  Anyway, I hear you all asking about the great ‘office-less experiment’, well I would if it was not for the bells ringing in my head!

In fact it is going very well.  I had three productive days last week working in the various coffee shops around campus and met a lot of people I wouldn’t normally have and performed a few introductions to connect people up afterwards.  The feedback has also been very positive and the support fantastic.  On a personal level I have found it quite hard work and have to admit to being a bit tired at the end last week.  The laptop screen is a bit small, our IT systems did not cover themselves in glory and the phone reception in the atrium is frustrating, but despite these slight irritations I had a very productive week.  So far this week I had a day solid of meetings Monday and a ULT away day in Christchurch, but the atrium beckons again later today.

On a different note, yesterday was not the greatest of days – the away day was fine, but then I got the news that a paper I had submitted a couple of weeks ago to Science had been bounced.  Rejection is never easy to deal with, even when you are half expecting it and is the norm with the most prestigious journal of them all.  Somehow I had convinced myself that this paper stood a chance, but no it was dammed by the phrase ‘most suitable for a specialist journal’.  I shouldn’t be that surprised, to stand a chance in Nature or Science one has to have something that is truly headline grabbing – goldfish eats boy!  But still rejection is not great and I thought I would share my feeling on it.

I used to do these sessions on the Releasing Research & Enterprise Potential on dealing with paper rejection in which I used to say that the true test is ‘how one deals with things in adversity’.  I do believe that this is true and within half an hour of circulating the rejection letter to my co-authors we had agreed a new destination for the paper and I will start the task of re-formatting the paper this evening.  Despite this I must admit to having a bit less bounce today than usual even if the set back in the greater scale of things is trivial.  Perhaps it is the prospect of the having to do more work to re-cast it for the new destination, or the memory of the early mornings and late evenings (working around the day-job) at the end of August spent shaping the paper.  No doubt by lunch time when the bells have stopped ringing in my ears I will feel more positive.  Rejection is part of academic life, you win some and you lose some, but let’s be honest it is the bit that sucks!

2 Responses to “Bells, Offices & Rejection”

  1. Gail Ollis

    I’m very taken with your itinerant experiment and can’t help but compare it with an altogether less successful out-of-office experience.

    A staff survey at a company I once worked for.showed that “The Management” were perceived as invisible. The MD’s solution was suddenly to start going walkabout in the offices & labs. People hated it when he turned up out of the blue for a ‘chat’; the atmosphere was excruciatingly stiff and uncomfortable. I don’t suppose it helped that his only previous record of personal appearances was to projects that were struggling against deadlines. I don’t think he enjoyed his “management by walking about” experience any more than we did, and after no more than a week he quietly disappeared back into his office never to be seen again (except, of course, when projects were in trouble).

    I hadn’t thought about this for a long time until I read about your experiment, and was struck by how utterly different it is from his clumsy approach.

  2. Richard Scullion

    Recast it not as rejection but deferred success. Even the pricey coffee will taste nicer then!