Know when to stop

Writing is only one part of a scientist's work. There comes a time when a writing project must be declared finished so that life can move on.

Revision can be taken too far. We knew a successful artist who would occasionally become so possessed by the urge to "touch up flaws" that we learned to hide the brushes so she couldn't completely obliterate her artwork! The same thing can happen with scientific papers.

When in doubt, apply a cost-benefit analysis - a well-known maxim that seems to apply to a great many endeavors, including revision, states that 20% of the effort is responsible for 80% of the results, and the remaining 80% of the effort only produces an additional 20% of the results.

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