What not to suggest to a research group

There are both good and bad things with publishing material that your group has been working with with intensity for a long time. Among the good things is the feeling of seeing the whole thing fly out in the public sphere, leaving the offices, and entering in to the larger scientific discussion. If it has been a big effort, that is always worth celebrating.

But after such publication, after people having lived 24-7 with one specific topic for a long time, you will find your group working with topics that is as far away from the published topic as is possible. If, for example, you have finished and published a work on late iron age individuals from an urban environment (just as an example…), then you will find the people in the group working with stone age material or bronze age material or countryside material or anything that is not late iron age urban material. And if you suggest to the group that you should perhaps do a follow-up, on some interesting aspect and left-over data from late iron age urban environments, then several things can happen. They can punch you in your face, they can quit and start working for a competitor, or they can just pretend that they did not hear you. One thing that will not happen is the group engaging in a similar topic and on a similar material to the latest major effort they just published.

With the wrong request, the punch is in the air




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