Feedback

S L Forsburg forsburg at nospamsalk.edu
Wed Nov 19 11:07:49 EST 1997


> Christine Ladislaw (ladislaw at bu.edu) wrote
....
>    Oh, and on a related thread, I'm positive that I have never gotten
> nearly as much positive feedback as negative feedback.... and I was
> one of the top students in my graduating class (not meaning to be
> snobbish here, just pointing out that if I wasn't getting positive>
> feedback, I'm not sure how many people were). Not to say that I never
> got positive feedback, but if I was depending on it to motivate me to
> do more work, I'd still be waiting.

Well, I will tell you that there is less and less positive feedback
the further up the ladder you go.  At my stage (assistant prof),
pretty much all I get is what I should have done, or why didn't
I do that, or this-or-that getting rejected, or most often 
 being  ignored entirely.  There's essentially no
positive reinforcement, so I have to trust my instincts that I'm
doing it right and plow ahead.  But I do try very hard to
 give my grad students and postdocs the sort of pats on the 
back that i  never got.    

<aside>
I do wonder whether the positive reinforcement, especially
at higher levels, is gender specific.  I know I see some (male)
colleagues get frequent pats on the back, probably because they
have networked well.  But have they networked well because 
they are men?  Do senior faculty (who are predominantly male)
find it easier to mentor male juniors than female?  
These political interactions are essential for career
advancement.  Are they gender neutral?   
</aside>

Science has become unnecessarily hypercritical.  WHen was the 
last time you read a nice review of your grant or your paper? 
Reviewers seem to feel the need to criticize SOMETHING, leading
to unnecessary nitpicks.  Unfortunately, they 
seem to be constitutively unable to say, This was a nice piece
of work and should be published/funded/whatever.  Along with
this chronic negativity comes a lack of civility.

But then, I'm told that theatre critics find it easier to
write bad reivews than good ones.  

-- 
-susan
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S L Forsburg, PhD  forsburg at salk.edu
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab          
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA 
http://flosun.salk.edu/~forsburg/lab.html
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