Sunday, December 18, 2011
When I start working on a project, it is always interesting and exciting, otherwise I wouldn't start working on it. Developing ideas is fun, narrowing down the question to just the core issue is challenging, building an apparatus or simulation or whatever feels productive and creative. But I also have to actually write a paper which frame the whole thing in a useful way, which means reviewing and summarizing the relevant literature, which is boring unless I actually have something novel to say about that literature, other than what my new experiment or analysis or whatever shows. And I have to make my paper, which is always interdisciplinary in some way, fit into a particular journal, most of which are tightly disciplinary. So I'm much better at starting papers than finishing them, and I have a tremendous backlog of papers to get out. It is therefore a great relief to have just sent out what was originally (three years ago) a response to another paper in which I saw some methodological shortcomings, that turned into a broad comparative analysis of human and primate demography, and ended up as a review article submitted yesterday to an anthropology journal. One of my co-authors is a bone fide anthropologist, so I feel confident that we at least refer to most of the right papers. I'm also confident that our points are valid and important and the paper generally well written. But mostly I just feel happy that if all goes well I will soon no longer have to work on this paper.