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9 and a half weeks

I turned in the forms a few days ago to apply for finally receiving my Ph-Dizzle. My defense is tenatively scheduled for May 26th... yup, that's right. After nearly 6 years of work, I am exactly 9 and a half weeks away from being done. That is, assuming I stay focused and get it all done. Oh yeah, maybe it's a good time to start writing my dissertation soon! Seriously, I initially budgeted myself about 2 weeks for that, but now I'm starting to get paranoid that it may take longer.

Oh yeah, and PhysRev has finally accepted the paper I submitted in December. In February, they sent me a notice saying that they were rejecting it (because the first referee was a dick)... and I had to fight them on it, but fortunately the second referee agreed with me, so it's all good now. I may make a friends-only post with more details on this... I was pretty worried about it for a while, but it feels really good to have been vindicated in the end. Apparently, when you try to publish without someone else famous on the paper, they have a much tougher time believing that you're saying anything interesting. My faith in peer review has been considerably shaken by this whole incident... at the very least, I have realized how subjective the whole thing is.

As ikioi said to me recently, anyone who has come up with anything really important or world-changing has been told at least once that their ideas are completely worthless. So perhaps the best reaction to being told that is just to say "oh good, now I've got that one out of the way." :)


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 23rd, 2009 07:25 am (UTC)
what now that you are Dr. Spoonless?
Mar. 23rd, 2009 07:44 am (UTC)
Ask me in 9 and a half weeks when I'm (hopefully) actually a doctor! I tried to figure out what I was going to do afterwards this quarter, and came up with a lot of ideas, and got a few leads, but nothing concrete has panned out yet, so my path is very much still open and undetermined. I've been feeling a great sense of fear combined with a great sense of freedom lately, in realizing that I have no idea whatsoever where I'll be living or what I'll be doing a year from now. Not even sure what continent.

This week I decided I'm putting the job search on hold to focus on getting done (especially since now I've set a deadline for myself and will be in trouble if I don't follow through on it).
Mar. 23rd, 2009 08:28 am (UTC)
I've been feeling a great sense of fear combined with a great sense of freedom lately, in realizing that I have no idea whatsoever where I'll be living or what I'll be doing a year from now. Not even sure what continent.

This is EXACTLY how I've been feeling. I could not have been more eloquent! Its a very weird feeling isnt it?
Mar. 23rd, 2009 07:40 am (UTC)
The same thing happened to me, though the paper never got published. Fortunately, the paper became my dissertation and will probably some day be a better paper as a result of the rejection, but I really do think it was publishable as it was. The problem is that this one guy keeps popping up and causing trouble. But everyone in the field knows that's how he is.

Anyway, good luck on finishing up!
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 23rd, 2009 07:52 am (UTC)
Yeah... I realize this is more typically how things work. I do think I am cutting it closer than I should, but the reason I am not all *that* worried is because I have a lot of published material already (4 full papers, the last of which I am still finishing up) that can pretty much be taken directly and stuck in there as chapters in it. The only thing I really need to add is an introduction and conclusion. So in a sense, I have already started... it's just that I wasn't calling it a dissertation when I was writing it.

But yeah, I am a bit worried about all those last minute corrections.
Mar. 23rd, 2009 08:06 am (UTC)
congratulations on the PhD-getting, at least! That does suck about the publishing, but ... being able to write a dissertation in two weeks surely makes up for that inconvenience :)
Mar. 23rd, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC)
"Ph-Dizzle" - i like this!

congrats on almost being there!

I'm a little freaked about peer review too. I wonder how well it can be done when people have both so little time, and are ignorant of how the work is done. I know you're supposed to get experts in your area looking over your stuff, but it often doesn't happen that way.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 23rd, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I am hearing a lot of stories like that. Once upon a time I thought people who complained about the peer review process were just crackpots who didn't want to admit their work wasn't worthy of publication. But I'm realizing it's a lot more complicated, and what gets through can be pretty random sometimes and is very affected by sociology.

My adviser had a story about getting a paper of his rejected, after which somebody got one published through the same journal on the same subject, except that paper was totally wrong and said the opposite thing from what he said. It took many months, but eventually he convinced everyone, including the journal, that his conclusion was right and should have been published and that the second paper was wrong.

I seem to recall onhava having a bad-referee story as well.

I'm also learning that a lot of the time, the professors are too busy to do the peer review so they just pass it off to grad students to do. All of this may explain why my advisor has been boycotting journals for a long time.
Mar. 23rd, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
It seems like the journals, at this point, mainly exist for the perceived respectability added by the review process and the act of "Publication in a recognized professional Journal": otherwise everyone could just post their papers on the internet as PDF files and have done with it!
Mar. 23rd, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC)
Indeed, that's exactly what my advisor does. Nobody reads the journals anyway, they just read the preprint archives online. So he just submits it there, and if he publishes with someone else who wants or needs it submitted to a journal (like a grad student who needs to gain credibility) he lets them handle it all. I was pretty shocked (and kind of disturbed) by this behavior when he first explained it to me, since peer review seems like a pretty important thing. But it has made more and more sense to me now. And I do at least agree with him that we should get rid of paper journals and just use a central repository online... the peer review process itself, I don't really see a way around though.
Mar. 24th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
I seem to recall [info]onhava having a bad-referee story as well.

I have a bad-referee story for every paper I've ever submitted for publication. I have zero confidence in peer review. (Every time, explaining to the editor that the first referee was on crack and asking for another led to the paper being published.)
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
That's disturbing.

I would have said you and I just both got unlucky, but 3 in a row? That's crazy.

I also find it fascinating that every time, the second referee passes it through. I would think that typically, if the first referee decides something that ends up being the final decision (whether or not it's passed to a second referee). Is it that they pick the second referee more carefully, or that the first referee barely looks at it while the second one looks more carefully? Or is it that the second referee sees that you have a good response to the first referee and doesn't want to be in the same situation of "getting schooled"? I found myself wondering all of these after seeing what happened to me.

I also found myself questioning whether I had actually done anything worthy of publication after seeing the first referee's report... even though everyone else who had proofread my paper told me the referee was crazy, I had this voice in the back of my head that kept saying... "maybe he's the only one who looked at it carefully enough?"
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)
I just realized that I wrote "3 in a row" having no idea how many it was. I think I wrote that because I figured 4 would just be too unbelievable, whereas 2 would not have made you say "every time".

In my case, I thought it just had to do with who I was publishing with... in all 4 papers that I published with someone famous, they just recommended publication "with the following recommended changes". But with the one paper I tried to get through all by myself, they just flat out rejected it... so I figured "oh, nobody famous to back me up, they don't believe I know what I'm talking about." This theory is substantiated by the fact that most of my response to the first referee was just dedicated to quoting famous people who had said my paper was interesting... that seemed to make the difference. Nevertheless, with your papers there must have been something else going on.
Mar. 26th, 2009 10:46 pm (UTC)
Looking back, it was 3, and I had forgotten that the fourth paper I published was somewhat different. The initial referee report was pretty ridiculous, but we got that one published without having to request a different referee.

Some of the most ridiculous referee reports I've gotten back first complained about the paper, then included a citation request to some obscure paper which I can only guess was by the referee. Those seem particularly weird; if you're going to try to use the refereeing process as a way to get yourself more citations, wouldn't you want the paper to get accepted for publication?
Mar. 27th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
You've got to be kidding me... that's the most absurd thing I've heard in a long time!
Mar. 24th, 2009 01:52 am (UTC)
My faith in peer review has been considerably shaken by this whole incident... at the very least, I have realized how subjective the whole thing is.

If you look for anecdotes, you will find legion. The process means well, but is far from "value free".
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


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