During this weekend, all I did was running away from my thoughts. I started on Friday evening after work and didn’t stop until Sunday night. I didn’t logged into twitter, blog, or even facebook! I am a very social person, and as I lived here in this city at home country for more than 10 years before going to the US, I still have lots of friends here.  I just kept going from one party to another, with other friends, to the next reunion or bar.

We are writing our R01 renewal back at my US lab. Didn’t have time (or peace?) to read it to our lab meeting last Friday. PI asked me if he could “borrow” parts of my written and drawer-kept R03. I was planning to submit it once I’m back, but hell, if we don’t have an R01, I don’t have a job! And most important of all I feel a little better of “contributing” for my lab since I’ve been away such a long time. Anyways, they still need more preliminary data that I know I can’t have it done here at home country. Pressure to come back.

Next weekend there’s going to be an international local meeting that my former mentor (and currently host PI) is organizing. Long ago she wanted me to attend, and I’ll always say that probably I won’t be here any longer. Sweet dreams. Here it is and now, since one of the speakers cancelled his talk, she wants me to give a talk at the meeting! Pressure to attend to the meeting.

My PhD student sent me a very long email yesterday. It’s complicated, but all you need to know is that she works under my supervision because my current PI doesn’t know a shit about rats and surgeries… Anyways, I’m trying my best to continue this long-distance orientation, having weekly Skype meetings, numerous emails and facebook chats. But by the end of my experiments here I left her alone for a week or two. And then all the damage occurred! Stats were done wrong, data analyzed incorrectly and now discussion of the paper must be rewritten! In her email she just told me “I know it’s too much info, don’t worry about that now. You can read my discussion, and come home so we can figure it out!” More pressure to come home.

In the middle of all this year I started a collaboration with a long time friend that just got a job somewhere north. Since everybody believed I would be already back by this time, that friend and the lovely summer student that we have been working with are with their trip booked for mid August to my lab there. To discuss, to work… but wait – am I going to be there? Not sure. Do I need to tell you that there’s more pressure to come back?

I could keep going on and on. Pressure from my parents that want me to visit more often since I’m so close by now, pressure from my friends that want me to hang out with them more often since I’ll be gone soon (?), pressure, pressure, pressure. I have everything the Embassy told me to do. Just have to return to the Doctor, that has family health problems and is not answering my emails.  Tomorrow I’ll try to call him. I can’t live in all this uncertainty of not knowing when (if?) I am going to be able to come back.

I can’t wait for this nightmare to be over…

Open Access Publishing

Recently I’ve participated in a survey on publishing in neuroscience and it was all about publishing in Open access journals. I don’t think I was of much help, as I never published any paper on these journals. But it made me think about why this happened. My first papers were published on wherever my advisor wanted to submit them, as I really didn’t know exactly what that meant and just wanted to have a publication! But later on… what happened?

When you decide where to submit your work first of all comes your area of research AND the status of the journal. My area of research doesn’t have high impact factor journals, and most of the top researchers publish their results in one specific journal (X, IF around 5). Of course, if there is some ephys involved they publish in Journal of Neuroscience, but that’s not usual. So as a graduate student I “grew up” reading papers from that  X journal and dreaming that one day they would accept a publication of mine. Time passed and now I have 3 papers published there. So now it became a matter of being used to submit my papers to this X journal first. It’s just a matter of habit! I also realized that I don’t know ANY journal specific to my area that are open access.  So I googled open access journals + my specific area of research. Found one, yay! Never heard about it, tried to see the IF of that journal. Tried by title, by ISSN.

***** No matching journals were found. *****

Really? Ok, so I guess this is not a good journal to try to publish. But really? Of course IF matters and every scientist wants to publish at Nature, Science, and beyond. But when it comes to more realistic IFs does it really matter? When it comes to pubmed, everybody will find your research no matter where you publish. Quoting Damian Pattinson, the editorial director of PLoS ONE in a recent blog post “it’s a good time to remember that it is the papers, not the journals they´re published in, that make the impact.” PLoS ONE has a pretty good IF, so should I care about being specific to my area of research?

On the other hand, I receive TOCs from all the specific journals to my field, knowing exactly what’s been published out there. My field is not that big, and I know most of the big guys from the field. Sometimes someone publishes a paper in a totally different journal that takes me a while to find out. That is one of the things that make me skeptical about publishing in somewhere other than the usual journals.  What’s your opinion about this? Should we alternate between specific journals and open access journals? If so, how which criteria would you use to choose what to publish on each one of them?


Twitter and Blogging vs Time

About one year ago I started to use twitter, to follow scientists accounts and found all very exciting. I never thought twitter could be such a powerful way to communicate with other fellow scientists! I didn’t post twits very often, and I blamed it mostly on the fact that I don’t have a WiFi connection in my phone. But also, realized that if I used a pseudo I would be able to share more. So a couple of weeks ago I did it! Set up a new Twitter account, a new blog. Got so excited about that, like I was a whole new person! Promised myself that I was going to be actively on Twitter and that I was going to publish at least a blogpost per week.

Suddenly tons shit of work fall into my lap. My boss wants me back home ASAP and he also wants me to bring ALL results with me. Pressure. Measurements does not work. Frustration, more attempts. Then remember twitter. Oh, I open it and just glance my eyes through the first posts, without being able to focus. At night at home I open my RSS feed to take a look at blogs that I follow. So many nice posts! So many good thing out there.

Then I feel so frustrated. Keep reading posts and twits from people that might be way much busy that I am. Feel that is important to communicate, that scientists should keep blogs, etc etc. But am I really able to do it? I have tons of ideas of what I could write about, but feel I can’t find the time to do it. Maybe it’s just my life right now, where everything is so uncertain. But on the other hand, like when you want to give up smoking, people say there’s never going to be an optimal time to do that. That’s why I feel frustrated. I know my life is crazy right now but I also know that things will not get better or easier. The worries and duties will just be different.

That’s why I decided to write this post. And keep trying to find the time for Doctor_PMS!

My forced sabbatical

ImageOk, I guess I want to share a little bit more of what’s going on with me now. I indeed am a postdoctoral associate in the US. However, I am not there now. I came to my home country little bit more than an year ago to spend 3 weeks of vacations. What was meant to be fast and simple turned into a nightmare! My visa was denied and I was unable to come back!

What happened was that I had a reckless driving charge on December of 2011. Damn charge! In fact I had that trip booked on January but my lawyer advised me not to travel without going to court. So I waited, went to court, had my “sentence”, everything set up. Then everybody thought it was ok for me to travel, so here I came. At the embassy, they requested a medical exam – what I think is to make sure I am not crazy, drug addict, or something like that! But what happened was that the doctor claimed that he had guidelines from the psychiatric association that the offender could not apply for a visa for 1 year after the offense. Wow, really? Why no one told me that at the Embassy? Or when I was still in the US? Of course I would not have left the country if I know that this could happen.

Anyways, as some time had already passed since my offense, I reapplied for my visa when my “time out” year had passed. Then the Embassy tells me that a person that had their visa denied due to “health bases” cannot ask for a visa until 1 year has passed from the denied medical exam. WHAT??? So again, why no one told me that when my visa was denied the first time to begin with??? Well, there was nothing else to do rather than wait a couple of months.

The good part is that fortunately I always had an awesome relationship with my graduate mentor and I am actually doing lots of experiments in her lab now that look promising. The other good part is that I have an extraordinary boss in the US that supported me every step of this way, and yes I still have a job and I’m still getting my paycheck. I am now in the process of reapplying for the visa (3rd time). I went to the Embassy and they asked for another medical exam. The doctor was much nicer this time (another one). He asked me some actual exams and now I am waiting the results. Hopefully this forced sabbatical will finish soon and with a happy end…

Hello Science World!

downloadSo… I’ve been on Twitter for a while now, and after following so many awesome scientists there I decided to set up my own pseud account and to blog! I have no idea how to blog. I keep thinking that I cannot write things that sound funny or smart. That I have no time for that and blah blah blah. So what? I’ll do it!

Why? Scientists need to connect! One of my favorite thing to do at a science meeting is to do networking. I rarely go to talks. Not because they are not interesting, but because usually I am so busy talking to other researchers that I can’t find the time to anything else. Talking to people in your field is so important! You exchange ideas, results, really working as a shortcut for many of your projects! What is better in the blogging world is that you have a whole audience! Scientists from all over the world blog about general science, grant writing, and so many other things that are useful to postdocs like me. So what if my doubts and my fears can be eased by someone reading my posts? Or maybe my achievements can help some other postdoc down there?

I promise that I’ll try to blog kind of often, try to blog interesting things and also funny things. One more thing in my to do list. Talk about my Science Reveries should not be so hard – after all I love doing science, I love talking about science, therefore I’ll love writing about science too.

Would love to hear comments if I’m doing fine, or just encouragement! Hope to see you around here!