He’s not carrying me November 20, 2011Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, family, papers, research, writing.
Tags: collaboration, Mike, minion, nepotism, papers
(Image courtesy of the Wife Carrying World Championships.)
Way back in the dark ages (i.e. this summer before school started), GEARS and I were chatting (because he actually had time to breathe then). The topic of me working with my husband came up, and he made a comment saying I should be careful not to publish too many papers with my husband because people will assume that he’s carrying me. I said that was true, but the people who make that assumption are also likely to be the ones who assume I’m an idiot by virtue of my sex. He conceded that was likely true, and then the conversation moved on to other things.
However, GEARS really does have a point. This is particularly frustrating because of situations like the following:
About the same time that GEARS and I had this conversation, my husband asked me for help on a paper. The paper was one written by The Minion and which Mike was a coauthor. (I, however, am not.) It had been submitted twice to a pretty good journal in engineering, and rejected both times. He asked me to take a look at it.
After reading the paper and the reviewer comments, I suggested some major changes. The problem was that the reviewer kept asking for comparison of The Minion’s widget to some other widgets, as well as a few other things that didn’t seem relevant to what they were doing. I told them that while the paper was supposed to be about this new process The Minion used to improve and old widget to make a new one, the paper was written as though it was showing off a new widget. If they could change things so that the paper was more about the process than the widget, than comparison to the other widgets would seem irrelevant as you already have comparisons between the old widget and the other widgets. They really wanted to compare the old widget to the new widget to show that the process worked.
My husband rewrote the paper in line with my suggestions, checked with The Minion, and resubmitted. I’d like to say the paper got accepted, but it didn’t. On the other hand, the nature of the comments changed from assertions that the paper was useless to specific comments to improve the paper, all of which were easily addressed. Once those changes were made, the paper was resubmitted and accepted.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the kind of thing that other people see. People seem to think that when you’re not married to someone you collaborate as equals, but when you are, someone is pulling more of the weight. I imagine that’s true in some cases, but certainly not all. And in our situation, my husband gets as much help from me as I from him.
If he really wanted to carry me, we could always look at participating in the actual sport of wife carrying. Apparently we’d only have to go to Wisconsin to compete.
Of course, I’m personally more interested in the husband carrying competition: