Scientists are human beings too
I wish – I really, really wish – some of the arrogant fu©king a$$hats in the quantum information and foundations community could spend a couple of days in my shoes. I have spent four years working very hard on the The Quantum Times, having done a lot of favors for a lot of people in that time (I wonder if they even realize how much time goes into it). All I ever asked for in return was to be treated with respect. A little time spent helping me get a paper published or – gasp – even collaborating didn’t seem like too much to ask.
Now, I have a life too – incredibly energetic kids, including one with Asperger’s, bills to pay (or try to pay), a long commute (to go with a longer story), not to mention diagnosed ADD and OCD (there, I said it) – so I know the demands life places on people. I haven’t taken a vacation to a place without relatives (parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) since 1998.
But, instead, I could paper my walls with e-mails from people in the QI community saying something to the effect of “sorry, I don’t have any time. But could you do X for me?” As a result some journals can’t even find reviewers for my papers (apparently the reviewers don’t even respond to the journal when they’re dealing with papers by me). And now, despite having spent a fu©king fortune to get to QIP 2010, I have been denied the opportunity to even present a (mainstream, non-controversial, and, in the form currently in possession of the Program Committee chair, error-free) poster there.
I have even seen my ideas ever-so-subtlely incorporated into other people’s papers with no reference at all to my work or, sometimes, to actual conversations I’ve had with these people about the topic at hand (which usually warrants an acknowledgement at the very least). The evidence for priority is on the arXiv but it does little good if the community decides to simply ignore it. How would they like it if I simply ignored their requests for my assistance when they need it with The Quantum Times? It’s oh-so-wonderful to know I put forth a genuine effort for people who accord me virtually no respect and are not particularly interested in interacting with me unless they need something. And don’t even get me started on the tone of reviewer comments. Criticism is one thing, but why is it so rarely supportive or constructive in tone? Even for complete cr@p there’s no need to be condescending and nasty. I have a hard-earned PhD from a respected institution. I’m not an idiot (and I’d be willing to bet most of these people couldn’t hold a candle to me in the classroom).
But I’m human and four years of being treated like this has proven to be psychologically wearing. They should try rejection and invisibility and see how they hold up. I’m sure more than one would crack under the psychological pressure.
But I’ve run out of things to say and I’m sure no one has even read this far so I’ll just stop typing now.