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The human cost of the pressures of postdoctoral research

Sep 2nd, 2017 by

A paper on conformal algebra has recently caused a stir on social media. Not because of the science, but rather the heartfelt plea in the acknowledgements

Every scientist knows how difficult it is to get a research paper published; reviewers may take exception to the way a study might have been run, or the way the data are analysed, or how the results have been interpreted. It’s part of the process, and hopefully, the end point is a more scientifically useful paper, something that adds new meaning to a research discipline.

When Oliver Rosten sent a new paper to the Journal of High Energy Physics (JHEP), ultimately it wasn’t rejected because of the science – this was deemed sound. It was because of the acknowledgement:

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I think the first phrase is too much: I guess there were more basic problems in Dolan’s life than the pressure put by physics work. Certainly people, say in businness [sic], behave more brutally than in academia. The second phrase could be OK but a bit out of place: in a scientific paper we discuss about science, not about life.

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