I’ve always understood this famous academic dictum, and I’ve known people who lived by it. Indeed, a former professor of mine once admitted that he deliberately published a paper with a known flaw in it, and then published a follow-up paper correcting the error. At the time, I had thought that his actions were the height of cynicism; later, however, I found out that he was only doing it because his co-author on the original paper was on the cusp of becoming a knife-wielding psychopath (and everybody knew it), so my professor didn’t think that telling him to his face that his theory was wrong would be a very good idea.
But I digress.
As I was saying, I have always understood this dictum, but I’ve never really felt it in a visceral, cold-hand-clutching-my-heart-with-icy-fingers-of-doom sort of way. But now, I’m getting close. You see, at the moment, I am reading a paper (published only a few months ago) in a fairly hot field in theoretical physics (namely, AdS-CFT correspondence) about working-out the field theory dual of a Reissner-Nordstrom black hole in Anti-de Sitter spacetime. It includes a section on future work.
I desperately want to do this for my thesis, but academics are such that I have no way of calling “dibs” on the subject. Thus, if I want to do it, I need to get my ass in gear so to speak and just bloody do it.
Which reminds me: why am I sitting here talking about it when there’s work to be done? Alons-y!