Friday, May 27, 2011

Getting Published

They tell you in grad school that you've just got to get published. It's a good idea to also tell you how potentially painful that process may be, especially if you're first author. See, once you hit "submit" on that manuscript submission form, all thoughts about that paper disappear. You move on to the next thing. Suddenly, every step you took to complete the manuscript, all prior revisions before submission, and (in my case) the actual content in the manuscript just seem to evaporate. . .

This is a bad thing and I'll tell you why. Two to three months later, when you get a decision back advising "major revisions," you immediately wonder what manuscript they are talking about (uhhh, did I write that thing?). But you have to go back and make the revisions and comment on the reviewers suggestions and whatnot. So, it's almost like having to re-write the paper, except (thank god) you have an existing (although apparently unmemorable) template (your original manuscript, which has likely been torn apart by the reviewers). Then you set to work trying to remember what the heck you wrote about in the first place, so you can make some sort of cohesive statements about how you really know what you're talking about, or maybe how you don't really know what you're talking about after all ("the author is grateful for the reviewer's suggestion and feels that these comments would indeed strengthen the manuscript. Let me just go conduct a whole new literature review and re-write the darn thing..."). And then, when you resubmit, there's no guarantee that it will be accepted with the revisions.

But it's a necessary process. When I first submitted the manuscript, I thought it was pretty good. When I got it back with suggestions for major revisions, I thought it sucked. When I revised it and re-read it over and over again before resubmission, I thought it was better than before. When I got it back again for minor revisions, I thought I might just burn it. When I re-submitted it a third time, I held my breath (but not for too long because I would have passed out). When I found out it was accepted for publication, I breathed a sigh of relief. . . and then promptly went out for ice cream. See, necessary. If I hadn't gone through the whole thing, I wouldn't have had a reason to celebrate with ice cream.

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