Gavin Lucas: how ThePaperMill was born


Gavin Lucas (on the right on the photo) participated in two hfp consulting leadership courses. He recently founded a manuscript review service together with Alex Gomez-Marín (left), another postdoc he met at one of the courses. Here is a short interview with Gavin.

hfp: Gavin, you participated in two leadership courses from us, the course for postdocs and a refresher course a couple of years later. How did you benefit?

Gavin Lucas: I profited in many ways. It was very good to see how other people in the same professional setting think, and to realise that we all have to deal with a similar set of problems. The courses also made me reflect a lot on my own behaviour, particularly towards other people – and this has definitely improved.

hfp: Do you see a lasting effect of these courses?

GL: The courses are very oriented towards core values. So even though they both only lasted three days, they really changed my way of thinking about a lot of things, and I still benefit now. For example, trusting and respecting people, and self empowerment, are two factors that have definitely changed for the better. It probably sounds weird, but to me it really feels like life before and after the courses.

hfp: Even though you are a postdoc, you recently founded ThePaperMill, a critical reading and language editing service for scientific manuscripts. How this this happen?

GL: Being a native English speaker living in Barcelona, I have been editing manuscripts as a freelancer and for colleagues for several years. I met Alex on the first leadership course, and then again on the refresher course, and we realised that we had a lot in common, mainly in terms of the way we think about scientific research as an activity. We realised that most researchers have incredible skills, but often don’t realise how valuable these can be. In our case, among other things, we’re pretty good writers. So we decided to team up to create a complete manuscript review service for researchers. Not only did the hfp consulting leadership courses bring us together, they really got us thinking about ourselves in a way that gave us a confidence boost, and unleashed a lot of latent energy.

hfp: In addition to your common interests, what were the driving forces behind this step?

GL: We both come from an academic environment, so we know how much time and effort it takes to generate publishable results. But, to us, communicating those results is just as important as the experiments themselves, and we were frustrated by the fact that many researchers don’t put as much effort into communication as their results really deserve, which does a huge disservice to all their efforts in the lab. It’s such a shame! We realised that it’s often just a case of being a bit fed up by the time we get to the end of our experiments. And so we thought, “What people need is a simple, effective solution for a simple, pointless problem!”. That’s how ThePaperMill was born.

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