Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Sometimes I Just Disappear
One of the more embarrassing aspects of being a researcher is that many of us are obsessed with reading the reference sections of new articles in our field of interest to see whether we are cited. In my case, possibly because of a drop in my productivity a few years ago, I am quite used to not finding my name listed in articles in my field. I can live with that, and I am now attempting to rectify this omission with greater productivity. However, every once in a while I come across a review article or a particular passage that is directly related to my published work but I am still not cited. In the past week this has been a frequent experience while I was preparing a lecture on the social neuroscience of prejudice and stereotyping. Amazingly, researchers I know well who have attended my talks at various conferences or were even on the same conference panel as me, simply don't mention anything that I have ever done in the past 10 years in their articles. It leaves me feeling a bit sad, and it reminds me of the way that Kip Williams describes what it's like when someone ostracises you. I'm paraphrasing here, but he said that being shunned by others "is similar to what would happen if you were dead. You experience life as if you didn't exist." When people I respect don't find any of my work relevant to theirs (although I find what they do highly relevant to mine!), it feels like I never existed. If I don't exist, then it begs the question: What have I been doing these past fifteen years when I was conducting and writing up all this research? In an occupation that has few rewards, recognition by one's peers becomes that much more important.