Improve your strategic thinking

Don’t be reactive, be strategic about your life. But like everything in life you’re not born natural, you need work to develop the skill. Stop chasing leaves, you may work hard and be busy, it may be your passion but it does not mean that you’re productive. Ultimately you would have failed at the game of life. Without strategic mind any breeze may take remove you out of your course. You don’t have to read every single book about warfare but The art of war By Sun Tzu may be a good start.

Avoid tactical hell. Avoid being reactive to other people impulses, demands, and needs that originated from emotion rather than logic. Otherwise you will find yourself in an endless succession of battles. With objectivity you gain detachment from the battlefield and gain global vision, you get to see the bigger picture.

Plan all the way to the end. Envision the end result and reverse engineer the way to the desired finish line. You need to fully visualize the objective before you start with the action.

Think long term. People and companies are myopic about the future. They are forced to give results quarterly hurting in many cases the long term perspectives.

Think what can go wrong. That comes from stoicism. Visualize failure in advanced so you can avoid and/or prepare for it before it happens. You can mitigate the problems before they occur.

Don’t get caught off guard. Related to the previous point, anyone worthy to be named strategist shall think about all possible paths and possible perturbations of the master plan. Be ready for whatever comes your way.

Have cooling periodes for ideas. When you have an idea let it cool down. Sometimes we get caught up with the excitement of the moment and we cannot see all the reasons why it is a bad idea. If you reflect over an idea over a period of time you will gain perspective and see things differently.

Take the indirect way. Don’t go through the most obvious path because everyone is taking it (or in case of war it will offer the most resistance). Instead find a way to surprise, find a back door. Usually back doors offer the least resistance and the maximum reward. The smart move is to find the weakest flank and go through there. You will have higher chances of success and less casualties.

Everything adds up. The good and the bad become bigger piles if grouped accordingly. Skipping one gym day may not seem a big deal (and it is not) the problem starts when it becomes a recurrent event. But penny to penny you can also build a fortune. Be wise about it.

“Dress me slowly, I’m in a hurry”  Napoleon said. Sometimes it is better to make it right the first time, than attempt it multiple times without much success. Doing work deliberately avoids future course corrections and fixing along the way.

Avoid competition. Peter Thiel is all in for creating monopolies. As he states it competition is for losers.

Search for feedback. Other people’s complains will help you to fix the mistakes and keep improving. Leave your ego home and get better every day.

Start systems do not set goals. System creates the steps necessary to get you where you want to be. These structures will prevent you from drifting. Thus moving you to your long term goal.

Choose your strategy and stick to it. Don’t copy a competitor’s one. You’re not on their shoes, things are different and everyone has to play their own cards. Each of us gets and exam but everyone has different questions, so copying your neighbour’s will cause more harm than good.

Be ready to loose. As Nassim Taleb states it, you should be ready to loose money for long term in order to win in that one only unforeseen black swan event. Don’t get distracted by the short term.

Long term is “what” not “how”. Once you have defined the long term strategy you can define the process and put the systems in place to achieve it. Otherwise you will be pursuing the wrong goal.

Deal with the problems as soon as possible. Problems when not addressed accordingly grow overtime. By themselves of by collateral damage. Don’t create a monster if you can put off the fire early on.

Use their energy against them. The first lesson in the martial arts is use your enemy’s energy against them.

Prioritise. First important-urgent, then urgent, then important, and the not urgent not important delete it.

Time puts everyone in their place. Sometimes makes more sense to wait for things to fall in their place. If an army does not have supplies it makes no sense to fight it directly but to wait it to fade away.

Morale is a multiplier. If people are happy, well rested and optimistic about things their productivity sky rockets. High moral is a force multiplier for the common goal.

 

Play games you cannot loose

I never loose, I either win or learn
– Nelson Mandela

If you reframe life in a way that never leads to failure you will win the game of life. You can choose one single goal, i.e. running a marathon. However, wouldn’t it be better to create a system? For example, run 1h every two days? You can run a marathon and be happy about it. But this implies that you have one shot. If everything is life or death you will die many times. Why do you care so much for such a one-time event? Do you do it for the others or for yourself?

To increase your odds to success in life you can create systems instead of goals. We can always make mistakes and unforeseen events can happen but you cannot fail a system. Systems are not black or white they understand the different colors in life. Systems allow something very important, they move you towards the end goal without failing. Networking is not a goal is a system. You connect with people and it increases your chances for different opportunities. You going to an event once in a life time is not considered networking, networking is something that you do with certain frequency.

Systems are good for other reasons as well. A system involves practicing an activity regularly. Deliberate practice improves your skill. For example, writing a blog may seem like a wearisome experience. But there are several benefits attached to it. For example, I get to improve my writing skills. At every post I try to give my best craft. They may not all be outstanding – some of them will some of them won’t – but it’s part of the system. Try different things and see what works and what doesn’t. Blogging may increase my career prospectives – that is the goal I had in mind when I started – but now it does not make that big of an impact. This website helps me to remember ideas, books, recipes, and many different things I once knew. Writing summaries of books help me to grasp the basics of each book, improves my idea retention but also allows me to retrieve it later in life in a way that I spare time to myself because I won’t need to read the entire book again. Sometimes I use a post as an excuse to research certain topic. If I want to write about something I need to first understand it and then summarize it. So, by doing that I am able to deepen into different topics.

Another important key factor about systems is that it permits you to pursue different opportunities without blinding you. Goals require focus and therefore may blind you from other chances that happen along the path while systems are not limiting. With systems opportunities will arise and you would have improved your skillset so you could take advantage of that.

In conclusion, aim to continuously improve by using systems and not willpower. Will power is limited so it is better to find a way to take the smart choice without much mental effort.

Few concepts to live by

Internet is full of lists like this post. Most of the lists are repetitive and useless. They bring to the table the same old information again and again. However, these paragraphs are different. They bring new and fresh insights to your life. These insights are from Robert Greene, author of many important books such as 33 strategies of war, Mastery, and 48 laws of power among others. Those are life changing books that everyone should read. But if you need a tease this post contains some concepts that may spark your interest.

Alive time and dead time. Starting from the latter, dead time is the time is when you’re simply waiting. You’re passively waiting for events to happen. However, alive time is the time-frame where you actively pursue the goal and improve yourself with the hope that the opportunity will arrive. It’s the time used to leverage the future opportunities.

Be objective. Objectivity is everything, we shall not be pulled towards anything without a decent reason. This is about removing the impartiality we live by. It’s about deconstructing life to see the real elements in play rather than the mystique surrounding it.

Be your best self. People naturally make assumptions about others. Your goal in this case is to be better than the assumption they made. Strive for greatness and be funnier, nicer, smarter, and more open minded than they thought. This requires work but it’s worth it.

Deconstruct and understand. Every time when we start a new activity or move to a new place we are on the surface. As we put work in it we familiarize ourselves with each step and component and we build mental pathways to intuition. Eventually we make it all way through.

Exercise increases productivity. Through the years this is something that I noticed. During the periods that I did the most sport I also achieved the most. Many people would think the contrary that sport takes time from other activities, but it’s plainly false. Sport gives you stamina, focus and energy through the day but it also relaxes the mind and body when deadlines are approaching.

Be patient. Most rewards come from delayed gratification. We are always rushing through our lives but if we give time for things to fall in the correct place we will be taking the optimal decisions at each time point. Sometimes the opportunity arrises but we are not ready to take it, and instead of rushing into it we should wait for future and more suitable chances.

Aim for perennity. Create art that will last long after you leave. Ok is not good enough. Classic books are classic because they endured the pass of time. And they did so because they are worth it. Don’t let the odds decide, it does not happen by accident, make it intentional.

Avoid tactical hell. Stop being reactive to other people’s demands and needs driven by emotions. Plan things, think long term and don’t let others deviate from your crafted path.

Plan all the way to the end. If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable. If you know the final destination you can reverse engineer the path to achieve it. With this you will have zero excuse to not pursue your dreams.

Everything is a learning experience. Everything that happens in your life can serve a purpose later in life. It can be material for a book, a story to tell a friend, something that you learn. See it as collecting data, observe it.

Avoid distractions. If you are working you are working. Focus and discipline are in crisis. Each break you take it costs you more time than the break itself. Stop reacting to others, technology allows us to communicate asynchronously. Try turning your phone off while working and you will see how much productive you get.

Keep calm. From over reactions you will achieve nothing. Rushed decisions may take us into wrong places. Don’t loose control of your mind and try to keep as rational as possible. This is a long term strategy.

Focus. Choose one task at a time and few goals to achieve. The more you add the less energy you will be able to focalize at each one of them. And without enough energy you may not even progress. Things move faster if you concentrate your resources into few well chosen endeavours. Say no and ignore the rest.

I hope that with all of these you achieve a higher enlightenment.

What questions to ask after a scientific presentation?

With my PhD I am attending to a lot of speeches given by others. In these cases, I usually have the feeling that the questions mostly come from the same people all the time. It always makes me feel bad when I don’t have questions to ask to the speaker. It feels like I was not listening. A speech without questions feel awkward and makes the speaker feel bad. It raises some doubts to the presenter: What if no one was listening? Was I boring? I couldn’t make myself clear and nobody understood it? However, it is not always about the speaker. Many times, asking questions is about standing out. If you ask a question people look at you, if it is in a conference it may provide a start idea for others to approach you.

Asking questions is good for the speaker. It helps to find the flaws to an idea, or notice the weak spots that went unnoticed. So, don’t be afraid and ask questions! But if you feel that you have nothing to ask maybe you can find these tips useful.

Comparisons

One of the easy ways to ask meaningful questions is to compare. Comparisons require some previous knowledge so you will be showing that you’ve done your homework and read some literature. Some examples are

  • You showed that using your method you achieve result X, but the paper ABC, et. al. performed a similar experiment but got a completely different result. Why do you think that happened?
  • The result you showed seems very promising. However, based on my textbook knowledge I would have expected the contrary. What’s your explanation for that?

 

Future plans

Scientists like spending time in the future. A good question may be asking for future when you are lacking from field knowledge. If you got the basic idea it is easy to do idea-sex with your knowledge. A combination with your expertise with theirs may expand the possibilities to create awesome science.

  • What are your next steps for this project?
  • Which are the future experiments that you’re planning?
  • How do you think this could be implemented to improve society? (patients)

The origin

For the same reason you may look into the future you can look into the past as well. Reaching down to the origin of an experiment may provide insights and ways of thinking that may provide you with the tools to improve your idea generation.

  • How did you come up with the idea for the study?
  • How did you come up with the twist X to do Y?

Methodology

As a computer scientist I’m a huge nerd of the implementation because I know that the devil is in the details. There are plenty of thresholds, and not-so-elegant decisions that people made on the way because “it made the most sense”. Nothing bad about this, but to give an example in biology for homology search an expectation value of 10^-3 is usually chosen without a better reason that someone long time ago choose it as threshold.

  • How did you create the control groups?
  • Could you use this method in the Y area of research?
  • Can you elaborate more with the Z method?

Holy Grail

This is the most important part of all. These are the killers! If you do this you’re guaranteed to get a novel price. But careful “with great power comes great responsibility“. If you use these questions it is important that you nod, interrupt the speaker to rephrase what he/she said and sleep half way through the presentation (snoring will give you extra points) (this is a joke).

  • Guys, guys, guys, can we take a step back here?
  • What problem are we really trying to solve?
  • Will this scale?
  • Sorry, could you go back a slide?

Now that you learned some basics it may be a good idea to put them in practice. Go to conferences, symposiums and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The only stupid questions are the ones that remain un-asked.

 

New Year’s Resolutions 2019: Building the right habits

New year’s eve signals a new beginning. It is a random time point when people set their expectations for the following 12 months. This last year was about changes  – moving, and adapting myself to new circumstances – however, this 2019 is about consolidation. I’ve already been living in Copenhagen for a while, now I know the city and the people. New year’s resolutions help me to move forward by setting goals that were unthinkable few months back but it is as well the base for the upcoming years. The future me needs a solid base to keep growing as a person. I’ve been doing this public list for a while now but this years is the first one where I write them in english. For those interested here there are last year’s resolutions reviewed.

This year’s resolutions are not that disruptive compared to last year’s. The aim for 2019 is to consolidate my well being with some routines (specially sport because it gives me extra energy). Adding to that I want to improve my soft skills and cleanse my life from undesired distractions. This goals -like every year- follow the SMART criteria. SMART goals come from project planning vocabulary and it stands for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-bound. This criteria helps me to evaluate whether I achieved them or not. What I do as well is to add an execution plan so it is easier for me to follow the plan and track the progress over the year. But in all cases the resolutions are created with the thrill of a child, the wisdom of an adult, containing something impossible to achieve the unexpected.

Professional

  1. Improve my presentation skills: Last year I joined the Toastmasters and I intend to continue attending the Frederiksberg club for a while with the goal to improve my public speaking expertise. In specific I want to reduce the number of filler words, use the stage with purpose, and improve my speaking flexibility to adapt to the unexpected.
  2. Improve my writing dexterity: The goal here is to publish in this blog at least twice a month. The language used must be english and I should try to write nicely. Using synonyms, and looking for more “natural” sentences.
  3. Start a business: No excuse, I’ve been meaning to do that for a while but always “life” happens. This time I intend to assist more entrepreneurship events and try to join a business person and help him/her to build an empire. I shall not wait for the right idea but the right person with whom I can pivot until something sticks.
  4. Keep high standards for my inputs and output: That translated into plain english means that I will consume less social media, less TV, and I will use my time wisely to produce more sophisticated and polished outputs. This is the v2.0 based on what I achieved last year.
  5. Get back to German: Recently I realised that my german is not as good as it used to be. The fact that I was learning Danish didn’t help either. Right now I entered a phase that I consider German still more important for my future than other languages so I will make a conscious effort to improve it (and maybe – no promises –  get a certificate). To improve my german I will create a word list, and I will check it at least once a day, not necessarily to memorise it but simply to refresh the words in my head. In addition to that, I will consciously listen to at least one podcast a week, read the news, and follow a grammar book.
  6. Write a machine learning book: The idea behind is to acquire a deep understanding of machine learning and be able to apply it. The book will force me to write down a learning plan, and take notes of my progress. This is probably an overkill but as long as it helps to keep moving forward I will feel satisfied.

Personal

  1. Improving my swimming crawling technique: I want to perfect my swimming technique so I get the maximum efficiency and speed with the least effort. The idea behind this is to be prepared for a triathlon/ironman the year after.
  2. Boost my weight lifting fitness: This also goes in the same direction as the swimming. The weight lifting will help me with my muscle endurance while preventing boredom in the other disciplines.
  3. Improve my running: The same reason as before. The goal is to be faster and get less tired.
  4. Meditation: At least once a day meditate for 10-20minutes. If necessary set an alarm clock to get a notification when the meditation period is over. I wanted to re-gain focus and mind peace. Also with that much sport I think that some muscles may need some conscious relaxation in order to be less stiff.
  5. Read at least twelve books: Since I didn’t achieve last year’s goal I decided to write here a list of the books I have in mind, so I can check the progress and write a review of each book in this blog. The twelve books means that I must read a book a month. The books I am planning to read are Mastering your PhD, Bad blood secrets and lies in Silicon Valley, Persuasion (R. Cialdini), trust me I’m lying, The personal MBA (again), whoever tells the best story wins, Made to stick, Fierce conversations, presence (Amy Cuddy), The oxygen advantage, the war of art, the power of subconscious mind, millionaire next door, the idea factory, the hard thing about hard things, scientific advertising, rising strong permission marketing, sicking wisdom, moon walking, open innovation, the art of war (again)
  6. Keep cooking most of my meals and keep learning a recipe every month. I will try to cook mostly at home and if possible vegetarian but varied. I want to learn new recipes regularly because stagnation is not an option.

Extra resolutions (because in a year there is plenty of time)

  1. Polish my salsa competence. Keep attending socials, and trying to imitate movements that I find interesting. If there is time maybe join a class.
  2. Improve my tango skills so I can attend to socials and have fun.
  3. Visit a new country that I haven’t been yet. This time I won’t set restrictions regarding distances or companions. Hard to meet my 2018 country visits but with few new countries I’ll be happy.
  4. Improve my self discipline. No lazy moments, no mindless reading, no I’m to tired for this, no I’ll wait. NOW is the best moment to do whatever I thought to do.
  5. Go through one day on the weekend without technology. Full disconnection. I think it is going to be hard but I will try to keep the tech at a minimum.
  6. Improve my interpersonal skills by arguing more often. I came to realise that I do not like to take part of arguments even though some times are necessary. In the end I tend to delay the inevitable. So from now on, I must argue from the minute zero.

12 months 12 challenges

  1. Free hugs
  2. Cycle using a fat bike
  3. Use a snowmobile
  4. Use a jet ski
  5. Brew my own beer
  6. Make my own wine
  7. Do hang gliding
  8. Do paragliding
  9. Go with dog sledding
  10. Get a tattoo
  11. Bungee jumping
  12. Dye my hair in electric blue

This upcoming year makes me feel motivated and full of energy, think big because sky is the limit. And like every year my mantra is: when in doubt choose the adventure, conquer the world, survive another year, and, most importantly be happy.

Happy new year! 😀

Revisión de los propósitos del 2018

Año a año uno va progresando pero de vez en cuando se tiene que mirar al retrovisor y rendir cuentas con uno mismo. Los propósitos para el año no sirven de nada si no se realizan; objetivos sin cumplir pasan a ser sueños. Revisar el año pasado y hacer una valoración ayuda a progresar y mejorar donde se pueda. Mirar hacia atrás ayuda a coger carrerilla hacia adelante y a mejorar la dirección. Por eso hago la revision antes que la planificación de los nuevos propósitos.

Profesional (y formación):

  1. Aprender Danés llegué hasta el A2. Ahora creo que voy a dejarlo aparcado ya que es un poco intenso.

  2. Mejorar mi habilidad para presentar. Empecé a ir a los toastmasters y ya he hecho algunas presentaciones. Creo que también estoy cogiendo algunos truquillos por “osmosis”.

  3. Mejorar mi habilidad escrita creo que he mejorado un poco pero no lo que quería. Tampoco he publicado todo lo que me hubiera gustado. 

  4. Empezar YA mi idea multimillonaria. Aquí nada, muy mal.

  5. Participar al startup weekend. No fue un startup weekend si no que fue un evento de Deloitte que me gusto mucho y en el que aprendi metodologías increíbles.

  6. Incrementar la calidad de inputs y outputs. Ciertamente creo que he reducido el tiempo que malgasto por internet.

Personal:

  1. Hacer deporte todos los días. No he hecho deporte todos los días, pero realmente estoy muy satisfecho con la forma física que he cogido, así que lo doy por hecho.

  2. Doce libros. Creo que es la primera vez en bastante tiempo que no lo cumplo. Leí algunos libros pero no doce como tenía previsto.

  3. Hacer nuevas amistades. Eventos, bailes, y amigos, han propiciado la creación de nuevas amistades. Estoy satisfecho.

  4. Meditar. Nunca me puse, muy mal.

  5. Hacer yoga. No hice tanta como quería pero me doy por satisfecho porque me apunte a una clase.

  6. Cocinar la mayoría de mis platos. Cociné muchos más platos de los que inicialmente había planeado. Ademas estoy contento porque voy mejorando mis habilidades culinarias.

Propósitos extras:

  1. Seguir con mis clases de salsa. No tuve tiempo de ir a clases de salsa…

  2. Sacarme el B2 de alemán. No me esforcé mucho en mantener mi aleman…

  3. Visitar un nuevo país. Visite muchos países en Asia, con este propósito estoy muy contento 🙂

  4. Ser minimalista. Esto no se como afrontarlo bien, simplemente no lo cumplí.

  5. Finalizar los papers de Boston. Tengo un paper en submission y el otro no está escrito.

  6. Volverme más disciplinado. Hice lo de las duchas una larga temporada, y ahora sigo duchándome en frío pero no del todo. Los inviernos son muy fríos. Listas de tareas  y programar mi día lo hago de vez en cuando.

No cumplí ninguno de mis 12 meses 12 desafíos…

Muy mal, para el proximo año tendré que planificar mejor o quitarlo de los propósitos.

Inesperado

  1. He empezado a bailar tango
  2. Estoy yendo a clases de weight lifting
  3. Empecé a ir a reuniones de Toastmasters
  4. He aprendido a fermentar miel como los vikingos, estoy haciendo regularmente hidromiel.
  5. “Inesperado” he empezado el doctorado
  6. He ido a muchos más países de viaje de los que había pensado en un inicio
  7. Conduci un formula 1

Por regla general creo que estoy bastante satisfecho. A ver si para el proximo año puedo seguir mejorando.

51 reglas para hacer investigación

Recientemente leí una lista con 51 reglas para hacer investigación y me gusto tanto que la voy a traducir y poner aquí.

  1. Sé libre
  2. Come dulces
  3. No vayas a las clases en la universidad, usa la universidad para imprimir de gratis
  4. Resiste la jerarquía académica
  5. No te creas todo lo que los profesores digan
  6. Duda, siempre
  7. No escribas proyectos de investigación
  8. Mantén las distancias con las personas que obtengan becas por escribir proyectos de investigación
  9. Haz caminatas periódicamente (de tres a cuatro veces al día)
  10. Gasta tu día de forma coherente
  11. Ten amigos
  12. Mantén amistades, y se mantenido por amistades.
  13. Ve al cine y mira películas
  14. Baila y ve a actuaciones de baile
  15. Hable y encuéntrate con artistas
  16. Habla con animales (y con plantas)
  17. Organiza fiestas
  18. Diviértete
  19. Disfruta: nunca dejes de lado el placer
  20. Ten una rutina
  21. Sé un espíritu amador, quiere y besa (si es preciso)
  22. Confía en tus propias habilidades
  23. Cuidado contigo mismo: se consciente de lo que dices
  24. Ama a tus intuiciones con todo tu corazón hasta que se demuestre lo contrario
  25. Date por vencido contigo mismo
  26. No esperes
  27. Se elegante
  28. Nunca (nunca!) abandones el estilo
  29. Se breve
  30. Mide las oportunidades.
  31. Se un rock star
  32. Rechaza categóricamente mediocridad
  33. Pasa tiempo con tus hijos
  34. Nutre tus sueños profesionalmente
  35. Duerme y échate la siesta
  36. Procrastina periódicamente como si no hubiera un mañana
  37. Date tiempo
  38. Lee otras cosas que no sean artículos científicos
  39. Lee más, escribe menos
  40. Lee distintos textos a la vez
  41. Escribe distintos textos a la vez
  42. Pausa tu escritura para que puedas escribir
  43. Escucha a la gente, observa a la gente, habla a la gente
  44. No reconozcas la autoridad
  45. Deniega categóricamente la autoridad
  46. Se absolutamente igualitario: no hagas compromisos con la equidad
  47. Prepárate para el cambio en tu mente mientras permanezcas independiente
  48. Nunca cedas independencia
  49. Embriágate (con poesía, palabras, vino)
  50. Desobedece
  51. Sé radicalmente libre

Resumen de la charla: Como escribir una publicación científica increíble por Simon Peyton Jones

Prof. Simon Peyton Jones expone siete puntos que – en base su opinión – una publicación científica debería seguir. El vídeo en si dura 30 minutos en los que repasa los puntos más importantes a seguir al publicar un manuscrito. Prof Jones recomienda que se empiece a escribir el manuscrito antes de empezar a investigar. Durante la escritura intenta ser simple – pero no simplista – y entendible. Sigue una estructura lógica y “reparte amor”. Os dejo el vídeo al final del post. El vídeo está en ingles pero es muy recomendable.

La primera idea que expone es que normalmente cuando tenemos una idea, empezamos a investigar y cuando tenemos suficiente material condensamos los resultados en un paper. Basado en la experiencia de Simon lo que tendríamos que hacer es tener la idea, pero luego empezar a escribir y después a investigar y pulir el texto con los resultados.

Porque tenemos que empezar a escribir después de la concepción de la idea y no investigar? Si empezamos a investigar nos desviamos del objetivo. Al empezar a escribir y exponer el proceso dejamos constancia de los pasos a seguir para llegar al objetivo, plasmamos las ideas que tenemos para el proyecto, nos fuerza a focalizarnos evitando que divagamos con sub-proyectos que nos lleven a ningún sitio. La escritura nos ayuda a desarrollar la literatura y evitar que la idea ya este publicada. También nos ayuda a pensar profundamente en el proyecto, ya no es sólo una idea que puede funcionar. Ahora ya es una idea en la que le estamos poniendo foco y pensamientos, para concretar y delinear el ámbito

Al empezar a escribir tenemos que tener algo muy claro en mente. Tenemos que pensar que al escribir un paper no lo hacemos para nosotros mismos, escribimos papers para los demás. Con los papers pretendemos comunicar conocimientos a otras personas. Queremos transmitir la idea que tenemos en nuestra mente a otras mentes. Para transferir conocimiento satisfactoriamente, el articulo científico tiene que ser entendible para terceros. El “yo ya me entiendo” no vale. La idea básica tiene que ser fácimente asimilable. Declara el concepto del paper abiertamente y de forma directa, no esperes que tus lectores tengan que hacer trabajo de detective para averiguar que conocimientos quieres transmitir. Si tienes más de una idea no intentes ponerlas juntas en el mismo paper. Sepáralas en distintos papers. Obviamente tampoco pretendas dividir una idea en mini-ideas para que puedas publicar miles de papers a la vez. Intenta que la idea de un paper tenga suficiente consistencia pero sin intentar comprimir demasiada información a la vez.

Cuando expongas una idea en un paper hazlo de una forma fácilmente entendible. Hazlo del mismo modo que lo harías en frente de una audiencia. Empieza describiendo tu problema, porque es interesante, porque no esta solventado, expón tu idea, explica porque funciona (con explicaciones y información), y termina comparando tu solución con otras soluciones. Estos pasos se traducen a un esqueleto muy claro que el manuscrito va a seguir.

  1. Título
  2. Abstracto (4 frases)
  3. Introducción (1pag): Aquí vas a describir el problema y exponer las contribuciones que haces a la humanidad. Cuando expongas el problema que no te de pereza a personalizarlo con un ejemplo ficticio. Escribe las contribuciones temprano y re-escríbelas después. Ponlo en formato de bullet points para facilitar el escaneo y dejarlas claras. Cuando escribas las contribuciones de este modo puedes añadir referencias a las secciones en las que solventas el problema. De este modo podrías enlazar tus contribuciones con las soluciones facilitando el lector la ubicación de lo que busque sin desperdiciar su tiempo ni hacer un párrafo aburrido como la lista de la compra.
  4. El problema (1pag)
  5. Mi idea (2pag)
  6. Los detalles (5pag)
  7. Trabajo relacionado (1-2pag) Referencia otros trabajos y compáralos con tus aportaciones. Simon recomienda ponerlo en una ubicación tan avanzada dentro del manuscrito porque de este modo ya habrás tenido tiempo para exponer teorías y conceptos para entender las diferencias. Esto también impedirá que el lector gaste energía y concentración leyendo algo que “no aporta” ya que no hace referencia a tu trabajo ni tus contribuciones de manera directa. Cuando el lector llegue a este punto, el apartado va a ser un tramite mas ya que tendrá construido los conocimientos para seguir el apartado sin mayor complicación.
  8. Conclusiones & trabajo futuro (0.5 pag) Este apartado es cortito. A nadie le interesa leer que quieres hacer mas adelante. Y la idea ya ha sido descrita. Así que este apartado es conciso.

Cuando compares tu trabajo con el de otras personas no uses la máxima: “para que tu trabajo se vea bien tienes que hacer que el trabajo de los demás parezca malo”. Aquí es dónde tienes que “repartir amor”. Repartir amor no va a hacer que tu trabajo se vea peor. Usa frases como “este paper me ha inspirado”, “este paper han tenido una idea muy buena”, “la implementación de este es impecable”, etc. Los autores de los otros papers lo agradecerán y a la larga crearás menos hostilidades. Al comparar describe también tus debilidades. Nada es perfecto. La implementación puede ser mucho mas rápida pero un poco menos precisa, quizás esta sea un sacrificio que muchos estén dispuestos a hacer. Además te elevara a los ojos de los revisores ya que no les parecerá que estas ocultando cosas.

Cuando expongas la idea empieza con la intuición, un problema especifico y luego expande hacia la generalización. Si empiezas con la generalización para empezar el lector va a tener más problemas para entender la idea.

Al exponer la solución no vayas diciendo probé esto pero no funciono, probé lo otro y no funciono. Esto no sirve de nada. La gente quiere saber que hiciste para solucionar el problema. En algunos casos se pueden incorporar al paper ideas que probaste y no funcionaron, pero con una finalidad. A veces algo que parece muy obvio de entrada puede no funcionar. Si este es el caso, para evitar que otros caigan en el mismo error o los revisores sugieran otra implementación puedes exponer algunas ideas fallidas. Pero nunca lo hagas de modo sistemático y mucho menos con todas las ideas frustradas.

Si el proceso te ha llevado hasta aquí ya tienes todo el paper escrito. Ahora va a tocar pulirlo. Para pulir el manuscrito tienes que pedir ayuda externa. Otro par de ojos a menudo ven cosas que no hemos visto. Pregunta a amigos que lean el paper y te den consejos. Ten en cuenta que por definición cualquier persona va a poder leer el paper por primera vez  solo una vez. No pidas a todos que lean tu paper a la vez. Pídeselo a uno escucha el feedback, corrige y así sucesivamente. Una vez han leído el paper ya van a tener la idea en mente y les va a ser más fácil entender el manuscrito que si lo leen por primera vez.

Cuando pidas a alguien que lea tu articulo especifica en que quieres que se concentren/focalicen. Si lo has terminado de escribir lo importante es que sea entendible, ameno y no se pierdan. Una vez tengas estos problemas solventados sera importante que no tengas errores ortográficos, que uses una buena gramática y seas más detallista.

Cuando alguin no entiende el paper no es su culpa! Importante cuando alguien te de feedback úsalo como oro. No son ellos que son tontos eres tu que no te has explicado adecuadamente. Es mejor que sean tus amigos quienes te digan que no lo han entendido y no que el journal te rechace el articulo. Y aun así, cuando el journal te rechaza el articulo, te va a dar feedback, úsalo! Cualquier pieza de feedback es valiosa para intentar mejorar y avanzar. No lo hacen para joder o porque son malos.

Para finalizar también puedes pedir feedback a personas que has referenciado en tu paper. No abuses de esta técnica. Pero puedes mandar un email a algún autor que no conoces y decirle que lo has referenciado y que si le importaría comentarte que les parece el articulo. Lo dicho no abuses y trata cualquier pieza de feedback como oro. Ya que te están dando algo que nadie puede comprar, tiempo.

Espero que te haya gustado. Si conoces otra charla igual de interesante sobre como escribir artículos o tienes algún otro consejo no te olvides de dejar un comentario!

 

 

SCORE: Usando metodologías ágiles para gestionar equipos de investigación

Con la introducción al agile creé el primer post de la serie, seguido de los post explicando las distintas facetas del Scrum (con los roles y el flujo de trabajo) hoy vengo con una aplicación directa para los equipos de investigación. Los grupos de investigación son grupos de gente que trabajan en el plano de las ideas. Al igual que los desarrolladores de software al final del día no crean ningún producto tangible solo ideas, información, conocimiento, pero nada que puedas tocar.

Hace ya bastantes años algunos de los grupos de investigadores de la universidad de Maryland (USA) decidieron implementar una nueva metodología para la supervisión de sus estudiantes, ya sean de grado, máster, doctorado o post-doc. Una metodología que se adaptara a las necesidades de cada individuo y no a las del título que ostentasen.

Esta implementación vino dada debido a la falta de tiempo que empezaban a sufrir los profesores. Con el incremento de estudiantes y responsabilidades cada vez tenían menos tiempo para dedicar a los estudiantes. Así que decidieron crear e implementar la metodología SCORE. Score proviene de SCrum fOr REsearch.

La idea principal consiste en reducir la carga de meetings a los que los miembros del grupo están sujetos sin comprometer la calidad del trabajo. Para conseguir optimizar el tiempo que pasan los profesores con sus alumnos crearon dos tipos de meetings. 15min meeting y los 1 on 1 meeting on demand.

  • Los 15min meetings tienen sitio tres veces por semana y como indica su nombre duran 15 minutos. Estos meetings, al igual que scrum, se hacen de pie para asegurar la brevedad de este. Durante este tiempo es requerido que todos los miembros del grupo acudan presencialmente y a modo excepcional lo hagan por videoconferencia. En el meeting todos los asistentes tienen que responder a tres preguntas:
    1. Que has hecho des de tu último meeting?
    2. Que problemas te has encontrado?
    3. Que quieres hacer para el próximo meeting?

    Al ser meetings tan frecuentes no pasa nada si algunas veces se responde que no ha habido resultados significativos.

  • El segundo tipo de meetings son los 1 on 1 meetings on demand. Que traducido sería meetings a título individual pero que se tiene que pedir cita. Con este tipo de meetings la idea es intentar reducir los meetings periódicos que solo roban tiempo. No siempre se requiere la misma duración para un meeting. Algunas veces los meetings precisan 15min y otras 2h porque la tarea es más compleja. Al pedir el meeting ya sabes de lo que se va a hablar y no va a ser una pérdida de tiempo.

Los estudiantes parecen bastante satisfechos con la nueva organización del laboratorio. Los profesores también parecen satisfechos con el resultado. Y a mi personalmente me parece interesante que hayan suprimido el meeting semanal que muchos grupos tienen en los que se presenta a lo grande.

 

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