Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I finally resubmitted the article that came back "revise and resubmit."  I'm hoping this will be the magic ticket to my first publication, especially as I'm headed on the job market next  year.  This paper has been on quite the journey.  It started out as a project for a class, and then morphed into my first qualifying paper (in my program, we don't have comps, we have papers).  Note to grad students: if your program does this, do not, under any circumstances, no matter how much you care about the topic, try to start an entire new field of research for your first qualifying paper.  I alas did not have my future self to take good advice from, and tried to tackle one of the thorniest areas of my field, for which there is ample anecdotal pontifications, but no empirical research.

Between reading and designing and misinformed advice (because no one else has done this either) I ended up with a study that tries really hard but has some major design flaws.  I thought, no problem, I'll redo it later.  However, the idea is that we also need to publish our qualifying papers, such that we have publications for the job market.  So, I submitted it to a major journal in my field, figuring what the heck, I'll aim high and go from there.  Not surprisingly, it was rejected (nine months later).  This didn't bother me, until I read the reviewers' comments--it was quite clear that they had not understood the paper, or not been willing to understand it due to ideological conflicts.  One gave minor comments, and said it was terrible.  One gave minor comments, and said it was great.  One gave major comments with constructive suggestions for major revision (thank you!). To give a small, but pertinent example, one comment form the first reviewer went something like: "This paper focuses on A population."  A sentence from my paper went something like this: "The participants in this study were B, with 15% A"  

Okay, I thought, maybe I didn't write this very clearly.  So, I rewrote it in language an infant could understand, and submitted it to a small journal.  This got the revise and resubmit.  The reviewer pattern was the same: one said it was great, with minor comments, the other wanted substantial revisions.  This time, however, they at least appeared to have read the paper, so perhaps the fault was my writing all along.

Now it's resubmitted, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed! If only it weren't so tempting to think of ways to redesign this study instead of transcribing. . .

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