Make Tenure Fast

Dear Fellow Scientist:

This letter has been around the world at least seven times. It has been to many major conferences. Now it has come to you. It will bring you good fortune. This is true even if you don't believe it. But you must follow these instructions: - include in your next journal article the citations below. - remove the first citation from the list and add a citation to your journal article at the bottom. - make ten copies and send them to colleagues.

Within one year, you will be cited up to 10,000 times! This will amaze your fellow faculty, assure your promotion and improve your sex life. In addition, you will bring joy to many colleagues.

Do not break the reference loop, but send this letter on today.

Dr. H. received this letter and within a year after passing it on she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Prof. M. threw this letter away and was denied tenure. In Japan, Dr. I. received this letter and put it aside. His article for Trans. on Nephrology was rejected. He found the letter and passed it on, and his article was published that year in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the Midwest, Prof. K. failed to pass on the letter, and in a budget cutback his entire department was eliminated. This could happen to you if you break the chain of citations.

1. Miller, J. (1992). Post-modern neo-cubism and the wave theory of light. Journal of Cognitive Artifacts, 8, 113-117.

2. Johnson, S. (1991). Micturition in the canid family: the irresistable pull of the hydrant. Physics Quarterly, 33, 203-220.

3. Anderson, R. (1990). Your place or mine?: an empirical comparison of two models of human mating behavior. Psychology Yesterday 12, 63-77.

4. David, E. (1994). Modern Approaches to Chaotic Heuristic Optimization: Means of Analyzing Non-Linear Intelligent Networks with Emergent Symbolic Structure. (doctoral dissertation, University of California at Santa Royale El Camino del Rey Mar Vista by-the-sea).

What's up, doc?

In a forest, a fox bumped into a little rabbit, and said, "Hi Junior, what are you up to?"

"I'm writing a dissertation on how rabbits eat foxes" said the rabbit.

"Come now friend rabbit, you know thats impossible!"

"Well, follow me and I'll show you."

They both go into the rabbits dwellings and after a while the rabbit emerges with a satisfied expression on his face.

Along comes a wolf. "Hello, what are you doing these days?"

"I'm writing the second chapter of my thesis, on how rabbits devour wolves."

"Are you crazy! Where is your academic honesty?"

"Come with me and I'll show you."

As before the rabbit comes out with a satisfied expression on his face and with a diploma in his paw.

Finally, the camera pans to the rabbits cave and as everybody should have guessed by now, we see a mean looking, huge lion sitting next to some bloody and furry remnants of the wolf and the fox.

The moral: its not the contents of your thesis that is important, its your supervisor that really counts!!

The Sea Squirt

Passed on to me from one of our senior faculty....

The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn't need its brain any more so it eats it. It's rather like getting tenure.

Funny citations

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand. -- Woodrow Wilson

The effect of this lack of applicable data (integrated into a human performance database) is to make the human factors engineer rely largely on common sense and intuition, which are admirable in themselves, but they are not science, for science must go beyond common sense and intuition. -- David Meister, Handbook of Human Factors

The researches of many commentators have already thrown much darkness on this subject, and it is probable that, if they continue, we shall soon know nothing at all about it. -- Mark Twain

It's not the thing you fling, it's the fling itself. -- Chris the Artist, Northern Exposure

...malt does more than Milton can to justify God's ways to man. -- Lord Peter D. B. Wimsey, Have His Carcase (actually Dorothy L. Sayers wrote it, but I like attributing it to the character)

What would life be without coffee? But then, what is it with coffee? -- Louis XV

I forget who it was that recommended men for their soul's good to do each day two things they disliked; it was a wise man, and it is a precept that I have followed scrupulously; for every day I have got up and I have gone to bed. --W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence

I used a quote from my undergraduate advisor, Dr. Benjamin Newberry, who in 1977 (or there abouts), with 12 inch ruler in hand, said: "We are scientists dammit, go measure something."

"Just do what you need to do to finish"

You could interpret it two ways:1) stop procrasinating and fooling around and get back to work 2) don't be perfectionistic and perseverative, do the minimum

"Consider the alternative: "Would you like fries with that?" This of course refers to my other career opportunity working at McDonald's

I wrote something personally meaningful on my dedication page to my good friend who encouraged me to start grad school and my (now) husband who stuck with me through the last 6 months of school. My dedication went something like: To Romelle who helped me start and Gary who helped me finish.

Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do

"A witty saying proves nothing." -- Voltaire

"Well, Art is Art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And East is East and West is West and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know." -- Grouch Marx, "Animal Crackers"

"Open your heart today......Don't wait for a surgeon to do it for you." -- Eric Braun

What's the difference between a graduate student finishing her/his dissertation and a piece of dog shit? - Major professors wouldn't cross the street to step on a piece of dog shit.

"A job not worth doing isn't worth doing well." -- Mark Thorson

Something a friends mother said after my friend had already spent several years on her dissertation without any end in sight.

"There are two kinds of dissertations, perfect and done."

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat. "--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alices added as an explination. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough." --Alices's Adventure in Wonderland Louis Carroll

"Having given the number of instances respectively in which things are thus and so, in which they are thus and not so, in which they are so but not thus, and in which they are neither thus nor so, it is required to eliminate the general quantitative relativity inhering in the mere thingness of the things, and to determine the special quantitative relativity subsisting between the thusness and the soness of the things". You are under no obligation to finish, but you are not at liberty to quit (referring of course to the study of Torah, not your doctoral work, but it struck a sympathetic chord with me). -- Talmud

I don't have a sentence, but School is Hell by Matt Groening, part of his Life in Hell series, has some hysterical cartoons. Primarily Lesson 19: Grad School - Some People Never Learn.

Any figure that looks interesting usually is wrong.

Enough Research will tend to support your theory.

The solution to the problem changes the problem.

Inside every small problem is a large problem struggling to get out.

When a system is completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

The important thing is to never stop questioning.

A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.

People will believe everything if you whisper it.

Everything depends.

Progress does not consist of replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is right. It consits of replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong.

There are no answers, only cross references.

If it can't be expressed in figures, it's not science, it's opinion.

Pavlov in Action

An MIT student spent an entire summer going to the Harvard football field every day wearing a black and white striped shirt, walking up and down the field for ten or fifteen minutes throwing birdseed all over the field, blowing a whistle and then walking off the field. At the end of the summer, it came time for the first Harvard home football game, the referee walked onto the field and blew the whistle, and the game had to be delayed for a half hour to wait for the birds to get off of the field. The guy wrote his thesis on this, and graduated.


Hello, Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline.

If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.

If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2.

If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5 and 6.

If you are paranoid-delusional, we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.

If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.

If you are depressed, it doesn't matter which number you press. No one will answer.

How not to get Something Published

To: Editor, Archives of General Psychiatry

Dear Sir, Madame, or Other:

Enclosed is our latest version of MS #85-02-22-RRRRR, that is, the re-re-re-revised version of our paper. Choke on it. We have again rewritten the entire manuscript from start to finish. We even changed the goddamned running head! Hopefully we have suffered enough by now to satisfy even your bloodthirsty reviewers.

I shall skip the usual point-by-point description of every single change we made in response to the critiques. After all, it is fairly clear that your reviewers are less interested in details of scientific procedure than in working out their personality problems and sexual frustrations by seeking some sort of demented glee in the sadistic and arbitrary exercise of tyrannical power over hapless authors like ourselves who happen to fall into their clutches. We do understand that, in view of the misanthropic psychopaths you have on your editorial board, you need to keep sending them papers, for if they weren't reviewing manuscripts they'd probably be out mugging old ladies or clubbing baby seals to death. Still, from this batch of reviewers, C was clearly the most hostile, and we request that you not ask her or him to review this revision. Indeed, we have mailed letter bombs to four or five people we suspected of being reviewer C, so if you send the manuscript back to them the review process could be unduly delayed.

Some of the reviewers comments we couldn't do anything about. For example, if (as reviewer C suggested), several of my ancestry were indeed drawn from other species, it is too late to change that. Other suggestions were implemented, however, and the paper has improved and benefited. Thus, you suggested that we shorten the manuscript by 5 pages, and we were able to do this very effectively by altering the margins and printing the paper in a different font with a smaller typeface. We agree with you that the paper is much better this way.

One perplexing problem was dealing with suggestions #13-28 by reviewer B. As you may recall (that is, if you even bother reading the reviews before doing your decision letter), that reviewer listed 16 works the he/she felt we should cite in this paper. These were on a variety of different topics, none of which had any relevance to our work that we could see. Indeed, one was an essay on the Spanish-American War from a high school literary magazine. the only common thread was that all 16 were by the same author, presumably someone reviewer B greatly admires and feels should be more widely cited. To handle this, we have modified the introduction and added, after the review of relevant literature, a subsection entitled "Review of Irrelevant Literature" that discusses these articles and also duly addresses some of the more asinine suggestions by other reviewers.

We hope that you will be pleased with this revision and finally recognize how urgently deserving of publication this work is. If not, then you are an unscrupulous, depraved monster with no shred of human decency. You ought to be in a cage. May whatever heritage you come from be the butt of the next round of ethnic jokes. If you do accept it, however, we wish to thank you for your patience and wisdom throughout this process and to express our appreciation of you scholarly insights. To repay you, we would be happy to review some manuscripts for you; please send us the next manuscript that any of these reviewers sends to your journal.

Assuming you accept this paper, we would also like to add a footnote acknowledging your help with this manuscript and to point out that we liked this paper much better the way we originally wrote it but you held the editorial shotgun to our heads and forced us to chop, reshuffle, restate, hedge, expand, shorten, and in general convert a meaty paper into stir-fried vegetables. We couldn't or wouldn't, have done it without your input. Sincerely,

Dear Dr.

Thank you for your thoughtful response to my decision letter concerning the above-referenced piece of excrement.

I have asked several experts who specialize in the area of research you dabble in to have a look at your pathetic little submission, and their reviews are enclosed. I shall not waste my LaserJet ink reiterating the details of their reviews, but please allow me to highlight some of the more urgent points of contention they raise:

1. Reviewer A suggests that you cite his work EXCLUSIVELY in the introduction. He has asked me to remind you that he spells his name with a final "e" (i.e., Scumbage), not as you have referenced him in the last version.

2. Reviewer C indicates that the discussion can be shortened by at least 5 pages. Given the fact that the present Discussion is only three pages long, I am not certain how to advise you. Perhaps you might consider eliminating all speculation and original ideas.

3. Reviewer D has asked that you consider adding her as a co-author. Although she has not directly contributed to the manuscript, she has made numerous comments that have, in her view, significantly improved the paper. Specifically, she believes that her suggestions concerning the reorganization of the acknowledgments paragraph were especially important. Please note that she spells her name with an em-dash, and not with the customary hyphen.

4. Reviewer B has asked that I inform you that, even though his suggestions were not mentioned in my decision letter, this doesn't mean that he is an imbecile.

5. My own reading of the manuscript indicates that the following problems remain:

a. By "running head," we do not mean a picture of your son's face with legs attached. Please provide a four- or five-word title for the paper that summarizes the report's most important point. May I suggest, "Much Ado About Nothing"?

b. Please make certain that you have adhered to APA stylebook guidelines for publication format. Please direct your attention to the section entitled, "Proper Format for an Insignificant Paper" (1995, p.46).

c. Please submit any revision of the paper on plain, blank stationery. Submitting the article on Yale University letterhead will not increase your chances of having the article accepted for publication.

d. Please doublecheck the manuscript for spelling and grammatical errors. Our experience at the Archives is that "cycle-logical" slips through most spell-check programs undetected.

e. Although I am not a quantitative scientist, it is my understanding that the "F" in F-test does not stand for "f___ing". Please correct the manuscript accordingly.

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Art Kives

If your original submission had been as articulate as your most recent letter, we might have avoided this interchange. It is too bad that tenure and promotion committees at your university do not have access to authors' correspondence with editors, for it is clear that you would be promoted on the basis of your wit alone. Unfortunately, it's the publication that counts, and I'm sorry to say that the Archives is not prepared to accept this revision. We would be perfectly ambivalent about receiving a ninth revision from you.

Why God never received a PhD

1. He had only one major publication.

2. It was in Hebrew.

3. It had no references.

4. It wasn't published in a refereed journal.

5. Some even doubt he wrote it by himself.

6. It may be true that he created the world, but what has he done since then?

7. His cooperative efforts have been quite limited.

8. The scientific community has had a hard time replicating his results.

9. He never applied to the ethics board for permission to use human subjects.

10. When one experiment went awry he tried to cover it by drowning his subjects.

11. When subjects didn't behave as predicted, he deleted them from the sample.

12. He rarely came to class, just told students to read the book.

13. Some say he had his son teach the class.

14. He expelled his first two students for learning.

15. Although there were only 10 requirements, most of his students failed his tests.

16. His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountain top.

17. No record of working well with colleagues.

What's the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic?

(Note: This has become a history of psychology item. DSM 3.0.2 [beta] has abolished these terms.)

A psychotic says, "Two plus two is five."

A neurotic says, "Two plus two is four, and I can't stand it."

The Professor

A grad student, a post-doc, and a professor are walking through a city park and they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out in a puff of smoke.

The Genie says, "I usually only grant three wishes, so I'll give each of you just one."

"Me first! Me first!" says the grad student. "I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat with a gorgeous woman who sunbathes topless." Poof! He's gone.

"Me next! Me next!" says the post-doc. "I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with a professional hula dancer on one side and a Mai Tai on the other." Poof! He's gone.

"You're next," the Genie says to the professor.

The professor says, "I want those guys back in the lab after lunch."

Created, maintained and © by John Hubbard (write to me). Disclaimers. Hosted by Dreamhost. Last modified: July-23-2003.