Like a lot of scientists, I’ve got a little bit of imposter syndrome. I’m secretly* afraid that my colleagues will discover that I’m not actually very good at what I do and that I don’t belong in science. (To be clear: strictly intellectually, I understand that I’m not really an imposter; but that has almost nothing to do with how I feel.) I have this worry about my research, about my writing book, and even about my blogging. At some point in the writing of nearly every new post, I find myself thinking “I’ll be embarrassed if people read this”. (A while ago, I connected this to introversion, but I don’t think it’s just that.)
There seem to be two really useful ways to deal with imposter syndrome. One is to admit that you feel it, and I’ve just done that. The other is to recognize good work that you’ve done. Continue reading
Like most people, I often feel a little impostery. I’m convinced that sooner or later, people will notice that my work isn’t actually all that important, that my papers are somehow flawed, that I don’t really know what I’m talking about when I teach. (People may even figure out that Scientist Sees Squirrel is seldom original, mostly wrong, and only occasionally interesting.)
I was part of some discussion on Twitter recently about imposter syndrome in the particular context of peer reviewing. Some folks worry that they really aren’t qualified to review. They worry that they may make the wrong recommendation: either miss a critical flaw or (conversely) see something as a critical flaw that really isn’t. As an editor, I’ve had people whose judgement I respect decline to review on the grounds that they didn’t feel confident in their reviewing abilities. Ironically, these are often the early career scientists who tend to be absolutely terrific reviewers.
For a variety of reasons, I think this fear is generally misplaced. Continue reading