Published research often hides the turmoil, excitement, frustration and elation of academic enquiry. The true story behind any research career is only revealed if academics are willing to talk openly about their successes and failures. Instead, the discussion is often limited to the contents of their glowing CV which never lists rejected papers, disastrous experiments or unsuccessful grant applications. Over the last few years, I've scribbled down various quotes from academics who not only publish great research but who are also interesting people: 'Enjoy and get used to saying 'I don't know!' ' ' Never forget how small academia actually is ' ' Relationships are the key to success ' ' Pick your battles. I didn't and I wish I had ' And my personal favourite, courtesy of James W. Pennebaker ........ ' The way forward can often appear perfectly logical, but it is rarely practical '