I got ‘feedback’ from my boss a few days ago about the first draft of my research paper. It was not very nice. He has this way of making you feel like crap. He laughs at you, asks rhetorical questions and uses a condescending tone (for ex, ‘why the hell did you write that?’ or ‘you really think so? REALLY?!’). The idea of constructive criticism doesn’t exist with him. Everything is about how “YOU” did or did not do such and such. Perhaps I am overreacting. But the truth is that this situation is toxic. I have been in this lab for 6 years and not once have I really felt appreciated. I have heard the odd ‘good’ (perhaps three times) in the last 6 years. Otherwise, I have been at the receiving end of unending criticism.
The bosses’ wife has been nagging away at me for over a year to write the first draft of my paper. This woman has hinted that it was my own fault for being in grad school for this long. Maybe it is. Maybe it is because I was too naive to figure out how to do science. Guess whose job it is to teach students to move things along? The mentor’s. Heck, that’s what a mentor is supposed to do. It wasn’t until just 6 months ago that all of my data was discussed in front of the lab as a paper. Same goes for all of the other students who joined the lab at the same time as I did. Usually mentors push students to publish and they train them how. Instead, we were supposed to figure it out on our own.
I had not submitted the first draft of my paper to my boss for fear that it would be considered premature. But I worked hard at this. And at the end my boss says “I re-wrote this whole passage here. I think you sent this to me prematurely and I don’t want to re-write the rest of it. So look at how I have written and write the rest of it (about 10 out of the 27 pages that I sent him) the way that I have.”
Maybe this is my own fault. Maybe I was supposed to be a stellar scientist when I joined the lab. Who wants a graduate student to be, I don’t know, a STUDENT?! The academe is looking for rockstar scientists to work in their labs for peanuts only to throw them out into a jobless world.