By the skin of my teeth

Steve Simon


I have to brag a bit. I’m working part-time at Kansas University Medical Center (along with a couple other part-time jobs) and my boss asked me two weeks ago if I was interested in writing a paper on the data analyses I had been working on. It would be submitted to the AMIA 2017 Joint Summit on Translational Research and I’d be the first author.

Well the data analysis was in shambles because I was rewriting the code to pull from an Oracle database rather than SQLite and I was also incorporating some new tools from the “tidyverse” that could speed things up by almost two orders of magnitude. So I said, I’ll try my best and offered to up the hours that I was working over the next few weeks to compensate for an extended time off in August.

I could not get numbers that I trusted until yesterday morning. The deadline was that evening, 11:59pm EDT. Having gotten this far, I couldn’t stop so I spent the rest of the day furiously writing. I realized in mid-afternoon that I needed to run some more analyses, which I finished at 6:30pm. I added those to the paper and went home to tweak the paper before submitting it.

Uh-oh, there’s a ten page limit. My paper was 20 pages. About half of the paper was tables, so I slashed and burned and relied on my favorite phrase (data not shown) in the paper, and I got it down to 10 pages by 10:30 my time (11:30 CDT).

Okay, I thought. How long does it take to upload a file? Well, not that long, but I find out to my horror that I have to sign up for a Scholar One account first. Name, address, degrees, affiliation. Check, check, and check.

I go to the submission site and they want an abstract in a separate box. Oops! No abstract. So I took the introduction (three paragraphs) and deleted every other sentence, more or less. One more thing checked off.

They will only accept papers in PDF format. Fair enough, so I print from Word to one of my many PDF printer programs. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

Oh, and the also want a resume, preferably in NIH Biosketch format. I’ve got dozens of these but it takes another five minutes to hunt it down.

Re-enter my name and affiliation and I’m done. Press the submit button. Time submitted 11:58 EDT. Exactly one minute before the deadline. See below for proof.

I’ve always been a last minute sort of person, but this is a personal best (or worst). The paper is actually quite good, in my humble opinion. The competition for speaking slots at conferences like this are quite tight, though, so I’m not holding my breath. I’ll get official word in early December.

Now it’s time to start on income taxes. I got a six month extension, but that expires on October 15.

You can find an earlier version of this page on my blog.