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31 August 2012

I’ve always thought that it’s better to be a pessimist than an optimist, for the sole reason that optimists are often disappointed, whereas pessimists are constantly pleasantly surprised. It’s all about framing expectations. Right now I am in the midst of waiting on the results of two major science efforts. A grant I submitted last June has been scored, and I am waiting for the results. And the first paper from my own funded study is back from review but still waiting on an editorial decision. Both results could come down at any moment. It’s incredibly stressful.

Here are my expectations, as honestly as I can make myself examine them. The grant will likely not be funded. It’s a revision from a grant that was scored fairly poorly. The funding agency doesn’t use percentiles, but if they did, I think it would be about the 75th (lower is better). That means we’re ahead of all the people that got triaged, which is half to two-thirds of all grants, but worse than three-quarters of the people that got scored. We completely revised the entire grant. It’s essentially a new submission. We even changed the name. I think the best we can hope for is to get to the 30th percentile or so, and a second resubmission, which is the last. But I could be pleasantly surprised.

The paper, I believe, will be given a revise and resubmit. I submitted it to a very good but not incredible journal. It’s an interesting paper, but it’s methodological, not results based (though I stuffed some results into it). I believe that it will have a tough review asking for significant revisions, because that’s what always seems to happen to my papers. And then I’ll do that. And hopefully it will be published. There is a chance it will be accepted with minor revision, if the editor is interested in simulation as a concept, and the reviewers they found were appropriate for what it is. It is also perfectly possible that the reviewers will focus on any one of several potential limitations, and recommend rejection.

I really want both things to go well, of course. The grant would feed me for four years. The paper will set up my next grant submission. I am nothing but hopeful for these things. I am trying to be guarded. But I am hopeful. And hope was the worst malady of them all in Pandora’s Box.

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