The man in the academic arena

By | October 20, 2014

Lately I went through a couple of ordinary academic failures. I had one manuscript rejected in three statistical journals in a row. I had another one rejected in Science, PNAS and PLoS Biology in a prompt sequence. Interestingly, among all of the six submissions only Science actually sent it out for review (and then rejected). Dammit.

Today, I gave a Monday seminar on "Processes vs events" at CTS, and it was rejected... by the audience. I thought I'd prepared everything well, but I messed up some key definitions at the beginning, and after four slides the audience just could not stand it and I couldn't continue. There I was, a self-taught statistical enthusiast speaking to professional theoretical physicists and mathematicians, and I wasted their time.

The obligatory lesson is: I should work harder, think smarter, explain myself clearer, and learn from my errors. But that does not cheer one up. I need something that will raise my spirits high, so that I can work tomorrow with some extra bit of energy to make my work shine. Something cheesy with plenty of pathos, something so optimistic that only an American can write. I need Theodore Roosevelt's excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic" delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Yeah! I feel much better now. Back to writing papers.

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2 thoughts on “The man in the academic arena

  1. Petr

    Sometimes it happens but what does not kill you it makes you stronger :-))

  2. Veritas

    Academia is filled with cold and timid souls. In fact, that is their tribe


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