I had my busiest day first: presenting two papers, serving as a discussant on one panel and one business meeting. I was late for the last one because it started at 6:30pm and that was mid-Duck meeting. That is, the folks who blog at Duck of Minerva were flocking to the bar. I had met some before, but not all. Unfortunately, I had to see a group about a dataset--the Minorities at Risk project.
Anyhow, what did I learn from the various panels:
- Well, as the person charged with discussing six papers (usually panel shave three to four papers), I learned that brevity is not much of an aspiration. Too bad, as conference papers are usually seen as draft versions of what one wants to submit to a journal, and no journal that I know of in Poli Sci/IR accepts articles that are longer than 12,000 words. Some of these folks went way, way beyond that.
- Which reminds me of the iron law of academic reading--the more you assign the less the students will do.
- We could have had better time management since six people presenting could have left more time for me to discuss and for the audience to ask questions. Instead, I ended up running over the session. The papers were good, but we could have done a better job of delivering them briefly in writing and to the crowd.
- I learned that it is hard to present a paper that is, well, mighty weak. My paper on comparing the Canadian and Dutch departures/returns from/to Afghanistan was very thin on theory and implications. I have a fun comparison, but not sure what I can learn from it. Oh well.
- I learned what it feels like to be the free rider on a co-authored project. My second paper was on institutions and ethnic conflict, and it was an effort to build on some of my previous work. But nearly all of the work was done by my co-author, Johanna Birnir. All of my other co-authored projects have either more even burden-sharing or with me doing more. Alas, on this one, due to skillz differentials and time, Johanna did far more and my guilt is more than assuaged by the relief that we have a decent first cut.
- I learned that my students do indeed rock. I had dinner with four of my ex-students who have all gone on now to get good tenure track positions in North America. A fun, smart bunch. i was lucky to have them, even when I whined about having to read their stuff. I am mighty proud of these folks and the others who could not attend.