"Can you tweet my paper" vs. "Here are some edits, no need to add me"
The two types of people in medicine
Recently, I came across a tweet that lavished praise on an unremarkable article. The article contained, as my friend Bapu Jena likes to say, no new ideas. It merely restated things that had been said before. Immediately, the tweet jumped out at me — there was a disconnect between the flattery and the content. I happen to know the doctor who tweeted this and consider him a straight shooter. On a lark, I sent him a text:
They asked you to tweet that, didn’t they?
How did you know!
Over the years, I have gotten it too. Will you tweet my paper, blog, survey, or poll? The truth is I feel sad when I get the request. I wish they asked me instead: Listen, how can I compose a tweet about my paper that will really get people’s attention, and get the word out? Nope, they aren’t interested in actually connecting with readers. They just want someone to amplify their poorly delivered message.
They are the “can you tweet my article” people.
Meanwhile, recently, a friend of mine was applying for an R01 grant. He took the help of a senior academic at his institution. This person warned in advance, listen I have too much funding — I cannot take any more — but I will help you. Then, on Sunday at 6 pm, my friend received his draft back. It was heavily edited with lots of strategic comments. The email said only “Here are some edits — again, no need to add me."
They are the “here are some edits, no need to add me” people.
The funny thing about academic medicine is that there are both these types of people. People who are truly selfless — willing to spend their Sunday editing your paper — and people who are selfish — wanting you to promote their paper.
Reputation tells you little. I have been surprised that some people who I were told are nice, turn out only to want you to tweet their paper, and people who come across as driven, can be incredibly generous.
My advice for trainees in medicine is to figure out the type of person you are working with, and find more people in your life who are happy to give you edits, “no need to add me.”