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Paranoia Pre-Publishing

If you've done research, you know what it's like to be paranoid. It takes this form: "Right now, somebody is doing the exact same research or writing that I'm doing, only they're doing it better and faster."

You may have experienced this phenomenon when the newer graduate students copy some of your procedures, or tackle the same subject. Or somebody mentions that they think so-and-so is doing similar research. What follows is usually sleepless nights, hair-pulling days, and breathless investigation into the truth of the rumor.

What I wonder is: how often does this actually happen -- that someone gets scooped? My guess is that it is very rare. Most new research moves the field forward a little at a time -- what chance is there that someone is doing exactly what you're doing?

If you've heard of this happening, please let me know, or respond to this posting.

In the meantime, my suggestion is that you should not worry about being scooped. The person who is doing similar research to yours will probably be a colleague someday, and you can co-author a paper. The most important thing is not to hide your work from others for fear of being scooped. I have found that those who fail to talk about their work with others have a much harder time finishing their dissertation, writing up their articles, and getting known in their fields. Let your light shine! OK, trite. But true.

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Are you going to try to work on your dissertation or publication over the winter break?

I'd like to offer a holiday/winter break challenge to anyone who would like to take me up on it.

Post what you'd like to work on (if anything) over the holidays, and the maximum amount of time you'd like to spend on it daily. Please keep this time limit reasonable and low unless you're under huge deadine pressure -- in which case you don't need this challenge in order to get something done! Then you can go back to this post daily, weekly or just at the end of the challenge (shall we say January 15?) to say how you did, to tell us about your problems or to encourage and commiserate with others.

So, to summarize:
Post what you're working onPost your daily time commitmentPost again periodically to tell us how you're doing -- I'll receive all posts as emails and will comment and encourage you!Good luck and happy holidays!