On learning when to walk away...
0 comment Tuesday, July 8, 2014 |
I have been toiling away for the better part of 4.5 years now trying to find an answer to my favorite research question. I have a lot of tools at my disposal. Some are better than others. Some are easy to use, and give consistent results relatively quickly. Some involve variable time and energy investments on my part and produce results accordingly. Some are time-consuming and not very easy to use, but give beautiful results.I've been pinning a lot of my hopes on one of the latter. It is a total bitch to use, but is giving me by far the most promising results of all of my tools. Trouble is, in order to publish the beautiful promising results from this tool I need to put to rest one tiny technical detail...and that detail is proving to be even more of a bitch than the rest of the tool has managed to be over the entire 4.5 years I've been working with it. It should be trivial but it hasn't been. I've sweated through several permutations of 2 of 3 possible assays to address this and they haven't worked. I've just completed the third of 3 possible assays and it looks like that one won't give us anything useful either. Without this technical detail the results from beautiful bitchy tool are unpublishable and these results are at the crux of my paper that I wanted to get out um...last year.GrAdvisor thinks it's time to throw in the towel on this tool. He may be right. He gave me a little "pep talk" on learning when to let go. I'm scared to - that will mean completely reworking the paper because no one else has another tool capable of addressing this question.I've invested a whole lot of time and energy into this tool and it's hard to walk away, because it means redefining question, my paper, and my quest. It feels somewhat reminiscent of walking away from a bad relationship. I've known for a while that it just wasn't good for me but I've put so much in at this point that walking away is admitting defeat, admitting I was wrong, and that I was stupid for holding out for so long.These are good lessons to learn. But still, science can be a real heartbreaker.