So, the last few weeks of the year can often change the flow of research – it’s hard to push folks to do a two-week experiment without looking like Scrooge, so about this time industry-folk will often turn to taking care of things that we often push aside until “later”. One is writing scientific papers.
Now grants and papers are the lifeblood in the “publish-or-perish” world of academics. For industry people, they’re usually the “other” thing to get done. It’s funny – but I do sort enjoy writing papers. Hmmm. "Enjoy" might be too strong of a word – let’s say that I appreciate the paper writing process. The standard cycle is:
a) idea for paper
b) excitement about paper
c) stare at blinking cursor for 3 days
d) realize paper is going to take more work than you thought
e) write first two paragraphs — this takes a day
f) write rest of 30-page manuscript in about 4 days
g) edit with co-authors for — oh, about 3 weeks, until you now HATE the paper and want it AWAY!! AWAY I SAY!!
h) submit to journal*. Journal sends out for peer-review
i) wait 3-8 weeks
j) get reviews back, spend first 24 hours cursing the MORONS that reviewed your perfect paper and are too stupid to see it (degree of moron-ity depends on whether turnaround time for review was closer to 3 or 8 weeks)
k) wait 24 hours, maybe have a scotch
l) realize the morons maybe have a couple of valid points — sheesh
m) take a day to a week to re-write based on no-longer-morons' comments
n) resubmit to journal
o) wait 3-8 weeks for paper to be officially accepted
p) get galley proofs — THE BEST DAY EVER — drop everything and proofread them immediately, make small changes, complain to colleagues about the editors’ choice to re-format Table 2… Hello! I made it look that way for a reason!
q) send galleys back in
r) wait 3-8 weeks
s) paper gets published in the journal and you're all like, "Oh that? Old news…."
* The choice of what journal to submit to is its own endeavor. Scientific journals are like restaurants – they go from top-tier to rags – and scientists know the world-class ones from the bottom feeders. And so there’s always the “how good is this?” discussion. And you always want to find the very best journal that will publish your paper. Shoot too high though, and you might get the incredibly deflating “thanks, but no thanks” from the editor… and that can spoil anyone’s holidays.