Posted in Recap, Support and healthy working

Recap: #ECRchat on Suppressing perfectionism and impostor syndrome, 11 April 2013

This chat was hosted by Nikola Bowden, a NH&MRC training (post-doctoral) fellow at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Nikola is 6 years post-PhD and has had 3 children since PhD, currently working part-time. Her research focuses on understanding DNA repair in melanoma particularly in response to sunlight and chemotherapy. Nikola currently supervises 4 PhD students, a Post-Doc and a Research Assistant and has an interest in science & research advocacy, particularly ECRs and women in science.

Please note that there is no storify of this chat.

The topic of #ECRChat on April 11 was an exact fit for where I am at the moment in my career, trying to suppress imposter syndrome and suffering from constant almost crippling perfectionism when it comes to preparing manuscripts. After it won convincingly in the vote I was a little surprised to know that many other ECRs felt the same. I came up with a long lists of questions to ask on #ECRChat but as the conversation fired up most were unknowingly answered.

Here is my recap of the very fast & furious #ECRChat on suppressing perfectionism and imposter syndrome:

Q1: Do you think you suffer from perfectionism?

I wanted to gauge if we all recognise perfectionism in ourselves. Overwhelmingly the answer was yes, but it was comforting to hear it eases with experience over time.

Charlotte Mathieson ‏@cemathieson11 Apr #ecrchat Q.1 yes, by nature a perfectionist but I think increasingly less so as the years go on!

Beth Hellen ‏@PhdGeek11 Apr #ECRchat actually don’t think I really do, quite happy to leave it as good enough. Get more perfectionist as I get older though.

Jessica Sage ‏@Jessisreading8011 Apr Perfectionism imbues you with many qualities but at its extreme is crippling to productivity. S/times ‘good enough’ is good enough. #ecrchat

Olan Scott ‏@OlanScott11 Apr A1: I am learning to let go and not worry about being perfect, but to be satisfied with what is #ecrchat

Hazel Ferguson ‏@snarkyphd11 Apr #ecrchat A1. Sometimes perfectionism creeps in but mostly think I’m pretty realistic about what is possible these days.

Hazel Ferguson ‏@snarkyphd11 Apr.@nikolabowden definitely learned to be realistic through PhD completion, still struggle when I’m moving into unfamiliar topics. #ECRChat

Nicholas Jackson ‏@njj411 Apr On perfectionism: a friend advises “don’t let the best be the enemy of the good”. (Also “better a live donkey than a dead lion”.) #ecrchat

Kylie Budge ‏@kyliebudge11 Apr @nikolabowden I like ‘done is better than perfection’ expression. #ecrchat

Deborah Brian ‏@deborahbrian11 Apr Perfectionists don’t always produce ‘perfect’ work – sometimes it is the source of procrastination and other anxieties, too. #ecrchat

Marin R Sullivan ‏@MarinRSullivan11 Apr @deborahbrian #ECRchat I completely agree about perfectionism often leading to procrastination instead

Marguerite Galea ‏@MVEG00111 Apr @MarinRSullivan @deborahbrian This is a real issue & negatively impact productivity. Has to be nipped in the bud ASAP. #ECRchat

Deborah Brian ‏@deborahbrian11 Apr @MVEG001 @MarinRSullivan best strategies for reducing perfectionism-related procrastination? #ecrchat

Marin R Sullivan ‏@MarinRSullivan11 Apr @deborahbrian @mveg001 I think as simple as it sounds just getting down to the nitty gritty and just write!

Marguerite Galea ‏@MVEG00111 Apr @MarinRSullivan @deborahbrian Deadlines, strong discipline only way to go. Reward yourself when you get it right. Forgive yourself if not.

Deborah Brian ‏@deborahbrian11 Apr @MVEG001 @marinrsullivan yes, I think ‘just do it’ is useful, but if I start making heavy deadlines etc, it can compound the problem 1/2

Deborah Brian ‏@deborahbrian11 Apr @MVEG001 @marinrsullivan Rather, I find breaking it down into small achievable chunks, I can trick myself into productivity again. #ymmv

Nikola Bowden @nikolabowden11 Apr #ECRChat “Selective perfectionism” sounds like it might be my take home message tonight!!

Question 2 lead on from the idea that on some level we are all perfectionists, but some deal with it much better than others. I was hoping for some killer advice on how to overcome “perfection anxiety”. #ECRchat delivered.

Q2. Any advice for how to deal with the anxiety for us perfectionists?

Peter Tennant ‏@Peter_Tennant11 Apr #ECRchat Q2) I think key is to learn to trust your abilities, & remember that your work does not define you! Easier said than done of course

Tseen Khoo ‏@tseenster11 Apr So, better to submit a good paper more quickly, then respond to f’back/revision + get publication. #ecrchat

Nikola Bowden @nikolabowden11 Apr #ECRChat deadlines, trusting in your ability and ‘letting it go’ was the best advice offered!

A question that arose throughout the answers to Q1 and Q2 then followed. It was not in my plan but like most others I wanted answers to this one too.

Q3: best strategies for reducing perfectionism-related procrastination?

Dr Eva Alisic ‏@EvaAlisic11 Apr Q3: set deadlines with colleagues… have a bet with my office mate; if I submit 2 papers by end May, she’ll pay dinner 🙂 #ecrchat

Kira Clarke ‏@KiraVClarke11 Apr @nikolabowden A3 If endlessly reworking a paper, sending to some1 to read breaks the cycle. Even if just partner/friend/family. #ecrchat

Peter Tennant ‏@Peter_Tennant11 Apr #ECRChat Q3: I deliberately send my co-authors early drafts & leave them to clean up the mess, stops me getting bogged down in minor issues.

The ECRChat was so frantic I was struggling to keep up and we were running out of time so the final question changed tack slightly but addressed the other main issue of the evening….the dreaded imposter syndrome.

Q4: Do you think you suffer from Imposter Syndrome?

Marguerite Galea ‏@MVEG00111 Apr @nikolabowden Ok, throwing spanner in here: ‘no’, not that badly. Not arrogance, just a certain degree of confidence (over time). #ECRchat

Jessica Sage ‏@Jessisreading8011 Apr A4 Supervisor advice again: you have to believe your work is amazing otherwise who else will (& if they don’t they’re wrong!) #ECRchat

Jackie Kirkham ‏@JackieKirkham11 Apr @nikolabowden just remember other ppl *do* think I’m good enough – I respect them, why do I disbelieve this? Let go of the angst

Dr Eva Alisic ‏@EvaAlisic11 Apr So in the ‘brag file’ go all the emails/docs where people thank you, compliments etc #ecrchat

Jodie Bradby ‏@Beidoj11 Apr Having not traveled much over the past few years (kids) I find my imposter syndrome growing. Talking to community v important #ECRchat

Not many #ECRChat participants confessed to suffering from imposter syndrome but there was some fantastic advice offered. Imposter syndrome seems to lessen with experience and the more senior you are. Keeping in touch with the research community during/after extended leave seems to also help.

Some of us finished off the #ECRChat with a pact to submit that paper we have been relentlessly re-writing in the pursuit of perfection. #Bucketdate is May 31st so if you have a paper you have been holding onto for too long join is and SUBMIT IT!


You can also download a PDF of the full chat here #ECRchat_tweets_2013_04_11.pdf



Academic, political tragic. Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia.

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