Blood, sweat, and tears: the story behind the paper

I have already hinted at it in a previous post, and I have been tweeting a lot about it during the past couple of days: our paper ‘Soil food web properties explain ecosystem services across European land use systems’ is now online on the PNAS website! The paper is about, well, soil food webs, and how important they are for ecosystem services. Of course, I already knew that, as did many others, and relationships between groups of soil organisms and ecosystem processes have been shown before. But in this paper, we show that there are strong and consistent relationships between soil food web properties and processes of carbon and nitrogen cycling on a European scale!

Anyway, this is all pretty exciting, but I don’t want to write about the actual content and message of the paper here. No. Because when you see a paper like this, nice and shiny and with a blue PNAS logo on the side, with slick figures, a list of references, online supplementary information, and a small box detailing the contribution of each author, oh, and not to forget the acknowledgements thanking the funder, the landowners, and the people who helped in the lab, you don’t think about all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into putting together such a paper. And blood, sweat, and tears went in it. Continue reading

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Cucumber time

In Dutch, we often call the summer month during which not very much is happening ‘cucumber time’. This is a time during which small news items get blown out of proportion, like cucumber harvests failing, ducklings crossing the road, or princes being born.

For many people in academia however, this relatively student-free period is the time to get on with writing those papers. It is also conference time, because of the same reason – no teaching. In addition, for ecologists, it means the peak of the field season.  So, no time for cucumbers after all. Continue reading