Another GTDA haiku

January 19, 2008

The modal fate of

all your scientific toil

will be rejection.

This has been a public service announcement from GTDA.

Your 10-point checklist before sending off that manuscript

January 19, 2008

checklist.jpgA recent article in The New Yorker by Atul Gawande suggests that complex missions often fail due to the sheer number of steps required to complete them successfully. The aggravating thing is that these steps are individually simple. However, in our frenetic world, even experts often miss a step.

The solution? A checklist–the low-tech answer to mastering challenging tasks. As Gawande reports, when the health care workers of a hospital’s ICU were required to follow a checklist for a seemingly straightforward task–keeping catheters clean and infection-free–10 day infection rates dropped from 11% to 0, and 8 fewer people died over a 15 month period. These were competent professionals yet their performance benefited from a simple piece of technology. And I don’t know about you, but it gives me comfort when I board a plane and see the pilot reviewing a pre-flight checklist.

Preparing a manuscript is a complex task. Your career ultimately depends on producing successful manuscripts. The last thing you want to do is send out a manuscript prematurely. It wastes your time, your editor’s time, and the time of your anonymous colleagues. So here’s a ten point checklist toward making sure that every manuscript you send out allows your work to shine. I wish every graduate student would do the following before sending me a manuscript, as an advisor, committee member, editor, or reviewer. Read the rest of this entry »