I have found that everyone seems to have different favourite places to write their journal manuscripts. You may enjoy the florescent tubes beating down on your back in the office; you may find a nook in the local coffee house where WiFi is freely available and caffeine can be brought in a drip-like fashion. You may even use the local pub to just get your creative writing juices going!
Meanwhile, I struggle to work on articles anywhere other than the quiet comfort of my own home, with access to the internet (and therefore emails), turned off and the kettle close at hand. The tale below outlines a fictional but realistic diary of a scientist who attempts to work from his/her office that is only a few feet from their lab. Our scientist struggles to progress with writing a journal article on the planned day, which obviously draws no parallels to my own experience!
8.25 am (0 words written)
Arrive at the office and switch on computer. Since the desktop takes an age to load up I may as well grab a coffee.
8.45 am (0 words written)
Right, time to start cracking on getting some of the article written! Ah, first of all I must check emails just in case . . . 5 new emails. Just respond quickly then I can focus properly.
9.15 am (0 words written)
Ok, emails done. Start typing.
9.45 am (173 words written)
Tap on the office door, nervous project student staring through the window. “Can you give me a hand with Bob”. (Bob is an affectionately named piece of equipment, over which I happen to be assigned control).
10.35 am (173 words written)
Ok, Bob is working, student is happy, time to get going!
11.10 am (289 words written)
Ring ring, ring ring. “Fancy grabbing a coffee mate?”, Haven’t seen Chris for a while and my caffeine levels are low: “sounds like a plan, lets do it!”
11.35 am (289 words written)
Nearly lunch time, but can get a little more written before going. Where was I?
12.15 pm (246 words written)
Ok, so I had to rewrite the little work that I had done as it made no sense. I may have gone down in actual word count but it is a case of quality over quantity. Time for lunch.
1.05 pm (246 words written)
Keep forgetting the undergrads are back and every food outlet on campus is busy! This afternoon I will get most the article written.
1.10 pm (272 words written)
“Can you help with Bob? Also, how do you analyse the data?” Time to fulfil my duties.
2.35 pm (272 words written)
Well that problem seemed to take too long to fix. Time to focus, perhaps some caffeine will help . . .
2.55 pm (272 words written)
Best check emails again, since outlook is open.
3.35 pm (272 words written)
Wow, so many emails. Still, all replies sent, time to focus.
4.45 pm (437 words written)
Nearly home time, best check Bob is working ok and shut down equipment for the night.
5.05 pm (437 words written)
Last push before travelling home! Where has the day gone?
5.45 pm (622 words written)
Should have worked from home! Only a tenth of the article written and will be in meetings and the lab the rest of the week. Oh well, there is always next week . . .
All characters appearing in this blog post are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons or equipment, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Does this reflect your own experiences? Where do you do your best academic writing and do you have any tips or tricks? Let us know on Twitter @Piirus_com, with the hashtag #piirustips
Post by Ian Hancox, Science Correspondent
Ian is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Tim Jones group in the Department of Chemistry at University of Warwick. His work includes close links to Asylum Research UK, an Oxford Instruments company, in equipment development and collaborations with the University of Toronto. Previously Ian completed his MChem at Warwick, then undertook a 4 year industrially funded PhD under the supervision of Prof. Tim S. Jones. Ian co-organised the Warwick section of the EIT Climate-KIC ‘the Journey’, a Masters and PhD level summer school focused on an entrepreneurial approach to climate change, in both 2013 and 2014. In his spare time Ian (sometimes) enjoys watching Wolves and regularly plays football badly.