Back at the beginning of the month, I boldly announced my intentions to finish all the reviewer comments on a revise-and-resubmit paper. In that post, I calculated that with ~25 comments to address ” if I just average one a day, it should be easily manageable.”
Now look over at the left hand column where the InaDWriMo button is displaying my status. (For the record, as 11/13/2007 it says “1 of 21 completed.”) By the count of my ticker, I have hardly made any progress. But I swear I have been working on the revisions. I spent a couple of hours yesterday, and worked on things off and on last week. And as soon as I finish this post, I’ll use what remains of my workday to tackle some more things.
The problem is that I’ve been working on the “one big thing” that stands between the current document and its publication in this journal. To make a long story short, a reviewer didn’t buy our surprising conclusions and was convinced that if we just analyzed a few more datasets we’d see things his/her way. I’m convinced that my results are robust and I liked the way the study was structured, but I am afraid that if I don’t bow to the will of the reviewer, my paper won’t be published in the journal.
So I’ve been scouting out other data sets, doing some analyses, drafting some graphs, and writing a new paragraph for the methodology. Before I can count this comment addressed, I need to add a couple paragraphs to the results and discussion, make a final version of the new figure, update another figure, and add a few words to the abstract and conclusions. As I suspected, the additional analyses don’t change my conclusions one whit (actually, they strengthen them), and hopefully they will be enough to convince the editors to give my paper the green light.
I know that the review process serves as a necessary screening tool to ensure the quality of published science, and for young investigators and writers like myself, the reviews are tremendous learning experience and chance to greatly improve the paper. But dealing with those comments can be hard on the ego. Sometimes I look at the reviewers comments (especially the one about not buying our conclusions) and I curse under my breath. It is difficult to internally sort out criticisms of the work from criticisms of the author (me!) when I spent so long laboring over the project. Maybe as I get more experienced with paper writing and revising, the process will feel less personal. I look forward to the day when I read a review and think only “OK, I’ll get right on that” and not “Oh, crap, I’ll never be sophisticated enough to get this stuff right.”
I also look forward to the day that I get a review that says: “Even though I haven’t done any research myself (or cited any papers) to prove it, I know that I am right and the authors who have done the research are wrong” and I have the confidence in myself and my results to write back to the editor telling him to tell the reviewer to shove it, and not to spend weeks of research time duplicating the original results.
But for now, I’ve got to get back to those revisions. That ticker will bump up by one in a few days time (I hope), and then it should be smoother sailing through those remaining 19 reviewer comments. I know there’s a few “you should change ‘will’ to ‘may'” -type comments in there somewhere.