We are doing this because we have a passion for the topics we are studying, and because we have confidence with the scientific process. But I would lie if I was to claim that the competition is not at least some part of the attraction. It is fun to know that other groups are working with similar topics and it is fun to try to come up with better studies, and faster than the competition. Sometimes it works and then it is a good single malt that evening, sometimes the competition beats you, and then it is not whisky but work to re-shape the study to try to make it more original from what the competition just published.
But just how competitive is the field? Well, some time ago I received a mail saying: “Within a few days you will get a manuscript. I think you have done enough on this paper, without knowing it, to be a co-author on it. When you get it, you have 48 hours to accept co-authoring it, make changes, or ask for more time. The goa will be to submit after those 48 hours”. The paper was indeed good, and quit competitive, why I see the need for the caution. And again, I do really enjoy this part of my work.