Friday, April 24, 2009

Soon to be published!

In a matter of months, I will officially be a published author.

This isn't quite as cool as it may sound. The work of mine that will be published is an original report of scientific research results in a journal that focuses on nearshore marine systems. The journal's impact factor was recently around 1.5, so we're not exactly talking Science or Nature, here. Plus, I was only one of seven co-authors on the paper. But the journal is still a must read for scientists in a certain field (including most of the people at the lab I'm working at now), and I am the paper's first author. First authorship of a paper in a peer-reviewed scientific journal is pretty exciting, especially for someone without a graduate degree.

This paper has been a very long time coming. The main issue I think was that there were seven co-authors. That means seven people had to approve everything. And a group of scientists is only as fast as its slowest collaborator. I wrote a number of drafts with my supervising PI, and we sent out our "final draft" to the co-authors in January of 2008. It took until June 2008 before everyone was satisfied with the manuscript draft. After the series of edits from each of the different co-authors, it starts to be a bit like Final Fantasy (This is the final fantasy... No, wait, this one is the final fantasy... No, this one is really the final fantasy!)--I have saved documents with names like "final final FINAL draft with changes". So the manuscript was first submitted last June. We got back reviewer comments at the beginning of November. The comments were fairly minor, but it still took us five months to get the revised draft past all the co-authors. We resubmitted last week. And now it has been approved. Phew! I will try to avoid such multi-authored papers in the future.

So what is my paper about? It's a numerical modeling paper. The sad truth is that it's just the kind of paper that I always hate reading. Boring, boring, boring. I can barely stand to skim the abstracts of papers like this. Yes, I realize this makes it seem like I'm going into the wrong field. Maybe I am. Maybe it's just that discovering and writing about these things is more interesting than reading the reports. So basically, I can't exactly recommend that everyone go read my paper. Still, it's my first paper--my baby--and I love it.

> Update 6/2/09: The journal article is now up online. I'm still not sure which month it will appear in the printed journal. I'd add a link to the paper, but that would very much destroy my anonymity. And it would bore you, anyway.


Sebastian said...

Ooh! If I'd stayed in academia, I'd be doing the same thing right around now.

My friend (the one I would've gone to Denmark with) recently had a request from someone to include his work in one of their papers. I guess that makes him a proper beardy now -- though he has a rather crappy, short beard currently.

I'll just have to settle for links from other blogs. Though I'm sure I'll get published soooon...

floreta said...

wooow that's still cool! congrats. :) i suddenly feel much stupider. haha. or just kidding.. but it makes me wish i were in academia..

Sebastian said...

More stupid... more stupid.

Eleni said...

Well, I felt plenty dumb throughout the process of writing this paper. One of the co-authors (an older British professor who is the most distinguished of the seven co-authors) even said directly to me at one point that I shouldn't have been the first author because I didn't know enough.

All the other authors had Ph.D. degrees and areas of expertise. The only expertise I could claim was grammar and punctuation. In fact, I had an epic battle (well, epic enough that the news spread around our little lab) with the British professor regarding grammar, and I won. Small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Sebastian said...

How did you end up as the first name, then? :)

And I presume the paper was in American English...? *narrows eyes*

Eleni said...

I ended up as the first author because I was the one doing the active research and actually writing the thing. I think it's fair to say that I knew the most about the results we were reporting in the paper, but my understanding of the bigger picture into which these results fit was not as great as the other authors'. The professor I work directly under might have been the first author instead, but I think she wanted me to do it because she wanted me to like working with her enough to do a graduate degree with her. This was perhaps an unwise biased choice, but we did get published eventually.

Yes, the paper was in American English, but I hope you are not suggesting that I may have won the grammar argument with the British professor unfairly. He tried to change a "which" in a sentence I had written into "that" even though it was a non-restrictive clause. He was just flat-out wrong, and he finally conceded to me when I sent him a very comprehensive explanation of why I was right and cited a website written by a Brit ( He couldn't argue with that.

Ambles said...


I am not cut from the academic cloth... I would have quit with the first Final Draft!

Good for you for sticking with it, that must have been frustrating as hell (or purgatory or limbo or whatver) for you.

Hezabelle said...

That's awesome! I always wanted to publish a paper.. but then I realized that I'm really bad at all things science and math.. and when you write about history they call it an "article."