Monday, 24 June 2013

Hashtag Full Professor Problems

I had a paper accepted to a top journal and I felt nothing. #FullProfessorProblems

You've heard of first world problems? You know, problems which most people around the world would be thrilled to have.  The twitter feed for the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems is always lively.

I'm coining #FullProfessorProblems.

Yesterday I had a paper accepted for a top journal (JAIR, the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, since you ask.)  This is a fairly big deal. It will probably go into my "REF" submission as one of my four best papers for the last few years. JAIR is probably the second best AI journal, after the journal just called "Artificial Intelligence" (or AIJ).  This makes 4 papers for my career in JAIR and 6 in AIJ.  10 papers in 25 years since starting my PhD doesn't sound many that many, but actually it is.  I'm statistical enough to have checked and those totals put me in the top 100 authors for each journal.  So if I wanted to boast (which I don't but if you want me to ... ) well I don't want to since this isn't a job application, but you can imagine what I could do with that stat if it was.

It's also a single authored paper, meaning I have a sense of "I've still got it" and knowing for sure I wasn't riding on my colleagues' coat tails.

And I felt nothing. Maybe just a smidge of satisfaction.  But no joy, no elation. That's what I am used to feeling when I get a major paper accepted.  It's not that it made me feel miserable, it just didn't make me feel great.  

I am not going through a bad patch mentally right now. I wouldn't say I feel great. But I don't feel terrible.  It's no problem to get through life and I can enjoy some of it.  But I do enjoy feeling great when I get good news, and I didn't yesterday.

To be honest it is a bit worrying.  I remember a similar reaction - no emotion then worrying - a couple of years ago when I noticed my h-index tick up by one.  Again that's a fairly big deal, and anyone who knows me knows that I obsess about citations.  Feeling nothing worried me a bit.

On the upside, I suppose, I seem to have been taking bad news fairly calmly too.  Though I can worry about that also - as in it's not my job on the line if we don't get a grant.

I don't know if this is the medication (escitalopram) talking. I ran out a couple of weeks ago and that did seem to coincide a bit of bad patch so I'm happy to still take it.  Maybe it evens out the highs and lows. Maybe it's just being older and more blasé.

I know, I know, I know. I'm going on about this good news for me.  And moaning because I don't feel great about it.

I don't want you to feel sorry for me. I just wanted to talk about what I was feeling. Or in this case, not feeling.  Since this blog is "Somewhere you can talk about it." 

I told you it was #FullProfessorProblems. 

p.s. Not quite on topic but a useful tip to pass on ...  I didn't have a rapid comedown when I read reviews (which is common if people misunderstand a paper) because I used a technique I either learnt or deduced from Alan Bundy: don't read the reviews the same day.  (He has often said that reading reviews ruins a day even when the paper is accepted. So if possible it's a neat trick to have a fun day with the good news and read the review the next day.)

Update 8 July 2013. 

This amazing mug appeared in my office today.  I strongly suspect ... well see my tweet about it. But this made my day, and indeed Aaron congratulating me the other day after having read my post was probably the first time I had felt happy about this paper acceptance. 

1 comment:

  1. I felt similar after I had my viva. I thought I would have been happier about the result than I was. I think I was actually happier after getting a good grade in school exam. I used to bask in my successes but now I can't seem to do that anymore.


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