Friday, March 2, 2018

The smell of desperation

One of my new colleagues who joined us in the last quarter of 2017 is visibly disturbed. Since a month back, she has been panicking over how she could get her name on a journal publication. Her desperation was so bad that, during our last meeting, she raised a question to our bosses how she could be involved in the publication process.......after our bosses gave a dressing down to the data collection team (which she is part of) for failing to meet the data collection KPI even after hiring new data collection personnel to boost data collection rates.


To quote one of my bosses, data collection personnel should focus on data collection. Once we have sufficient data, then do we think about journal publications of our results. My boss followed up by enquiring what pressing research questions and hypotheses she has in mind which we could investigate.

"Don't know. Have not thought about it yet."

Double ouchie.

"Once you have a well-thought idea, we could have a discussion on publishing our findings. For now, just focus on data collection as our sample size is inadequate."

While this was going on, I looked at the faces of my other colleagues. If it was not a formal setting, they would be <facepalming>. Okay fine. This is her very first job after graduation so, as her colleagues, we should be more embracing of her mistakes.

However, the harping about journal publications did not cease after the meeting. In fact, after the meeting, she doubled down on her behaviour. She spent more time thinking of research questions and hypotheses, shirking her primary responsibility of data collection. This earned her the ire of the data collection team who had to pick up her slack. In the end, one of them reported to the bosses that she is not a team player.

Why is she so desperate? Recently, while taking the same commute with her, she shared with me that her performance review with the bosses is, at best, average. Everyone, according to her, has a task that they are responsible for. As a newcomer, she does not have a task that she is solely responsible for that will make her stand out from the others. So, she needs to find an outlet to express her competency........and that would be journal publications, the supposed glorious be-all and end-all of aspiring researchers-to-be.

I can understand her feelings. I wanna publish stuff in peer-reviewed journals as well. In fact, I am reaaaallllyyy itching for it. There is a season for everything, but now is not the season for publications.

It is not ideal to be overly desperate for something. Neither is wearing one's heart on one's sleeves such a good idea. The astute can prod for vulnerabilities and dangle the most-prized carrot to entice the unguarded to do their bidding.

Mask thy intentions, especially in the workplace where many wolves lurk. Failing which, take great steps to understand thyself and thy motivations. Then you will be less likely to take the bait that others deliberately throw in your direction.

Better yet, use the concept of self-complexity from social psychology to buffer yourself from such psychic damage. A self-complex individual possesses multiple independent cognitive models of themselves. If one fails, there are others to buffer the damage.

Said colleague egging me to join in with her push for publication campaign because I am "less" of a social science researcher if I do not do so? Too bad, it has limited effect on me.

Unintelligent Nerd is a son to his mother.
Unintelligent Nerd is an armchair data scientist in his free time
Unintelligent Nerd is a friend to his inner circle of friends
Unintelligent Nerd fiddles with programming in his free time


If I "flop" as a social science researcher, my other "selfs" would more than make up for it. :)

P.S. Readers, have you ever noticed that the investment bloggers who possess high levels of self-complexity are generally quite nonchalant about their investment portfolios? ;)


  1. Unintelligent Nerd,

    Interesting that someone who majored in sociology or psychology has no clue about herself?

    If we publish "superficial" stuffs, we would be telling the whole industry and our peers what an "air-head" we are!?

    Well, so much for mindfulness ;)


    I am guessing she has not read Michiavelli. She has no clue if she outshines her peers and bosses before her wings are fully formed, what are the "consequences...

    1. Hi SMOL,

      "Enthusiasm" needs to be modulated depending on the context.

      In some cases, enthusiasm is a breath of fresh air. Overdo it, 令人反感

  2. Hi UN,

    Opportunity cost? Hehehehe

    Too bad .. me always never grab opportunity well and never looking to be the star of all attractions!

    Maybe I'm a nerd too, a silly one!

    1. Hi Sleepydevil,

      In investing, Morningstar is the Star of all attractions mah. :P

  3. Hahaha. Interesting post on something different. What if she/your co-workers read your blog?!

    1. Hi KPO,

      Nah. They not interested in personal finance and investments.