Thursday, January 2, 2020

A year in the life of a post-doc

In some ways, the year 2019 has been remarkably unremarkable for me. In the beginning of the year, I started on a DFG-funded project, so the most acute uncertainties associated with employment have been postponed for another few years. The beginning of the project is slow; data collection has just started, projects from the previous years are at various stages of non-completion and imperfection. 

Why would I even write a blog post about my year 2019, then? Well, every fail comes with a win, and vice versa. To demonstrate: The first win of 2020 is that we booked a nice hotel in the Austrian Alps for cross-country skiing. The first fail, associated with that (and the actual reason for writing the blog post): I came down with a cold, and need to stay in the hotel room. And, again, as an attached win, I get to enjoy this view:

So, without any further ado, here's a list of my 2019 win/fail pairs: 

Finalised a manuscript
Rejected by 5 different journals
For a grant proposal, got together a team of amazing researchers from 13 different countries who agreed to collaborate with me on a cross-linguistic project
Proposal has a <10% chance of being funded
Started learning Natural Language Processing (and data science, and programming in general)
Still need to improve a lot before I can actually apply it in my research, or for looking for jobs outside of academia (New Year’s Resolution for 2020)
Started supervising my first PhD student
Issues with funding beyond the first year of her PhD (mainly due to stupid university bureaucracy)
Started teaching
Not sure how happy my students are with me hijacking their “research methods in clinical psychology” course and turning it into a course about statistics and open science
Learned that if I get an ERC starting grant, I’ll be guaranteed a professorship
Downloaded the manual for writing an ERC starting grant proposal, realised that the manual is 50 pages of densely written bureaucratese text, started wondering if I really want a professorship that much...
Data collection for new project going well, very competent research assistants
One of the testing laptops gave research assistant a strong electric shock and stopped working

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