Thursday, June 26, 2008

starting is so hard

I have much more of a problem with beginning to write than actually writing.

Once I get into the swing of things, I can write like the wind. I started writing about half an hour ago and have written 2 and a half pages of a journal article I'm working on in that time. If taking this blog break doesn't kill my momentum, I will probably finish up a good chunk of the revisions I am doing in another hour at the most.

But it's the starting that sucks.

The way journal articles work, for those not in the know, is that you send in an article to a journal, and they get 3 anonymous reviewers to give you comments. Then you get back one of 3 decisions: 1. rejection 2. revise and resubmit and 3. conditional accept. You almost never get a conditional accept, which is when they accept your journal article outright with very small changes. The only people who get that are like Karl Marx or something.

So the vast majority of people who are not Karl Marx, get a "revise and resubmit" decision. That's when the reviewers suggest a bunch of semi-major revisions, you revise them in the next 2-3 months, and then return the article back to the editor. He/she then may or may not send it back to the same reviewers, to different reviewers, or just read it over himself. At that point many people get a conditional accept, some get a rejection, and some get another round of revise and resubmit.

The whole process is long. It can take years to get from an article submission to a publication. Even after they conditionally accept it, you have to make those last small changes, then they send it back to you for proofreading, then you have to read actual publisher proofs to make sure the publisher got it right, and then it could be anywhere from several months to over a year until your article get to print. Also each time you send it back to the editor, it can be several weeks or several months before you can do the next stage.

For instance, I have an article coming out in August that I started working on when I was a junior in college in 2003. We first finished the article and sent it out in 2005. Then it got a revise and resubmit. Then it took a few months to make the changes, and then a few months for them to review it again. By then it was the end of 2006. And we got a second revise and resubmit decision. By the time we actually got a conditional accept, it was early 2008. We did those minor conditional accept things in March, did the proofreading in April, read the publisher proofs in May, and the article is coming out in print in August.

Anyway, my long blathering here is because I'm working on revising and resubmitting my masters thesis. I got my MA in 2006, sent it out to a top journal, got rejected, sent it out to another (top) journal, got rejected, sent it out to a second tier journal, and got a revise and resubmit. I got this in April, when a whole lot of shit was going down (dissertation proposal draft 1, a grant proposal, end of the semester grading, proofreading that other article).

But over the past few weeks I have finally done the actual research necessary for this revision. Cause they of course wanted me to use a whole new data set to compliment the data I already had, plus collect a bunch of other data on maternity leave and child care policies for 20 schools. That stuff took forever, but I did it.

But now it comes to writing. And I'm having such a hard time actually sitting down and writing up my results. For the past 2 weeks I've been putting off starting. Today I finally sat down and started, and I'm already done with a major chunk (describing the findings in that extra dataset they wanted me to use). If I can actually sit here until I write up the stuff on maternity leave policies, I"ll have finished like 70% of the revision. After that it's all minor stuff, and making sure stuff makes sense with the new stuff in the paper, and maybe rewriting a bit of the conclusion. I can be finished with this by next week, which is my goal. But sitting down to write is just so damn hard!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds hard in the way that walking through the gates of hell would be hard. To me, anyway.
    But you'll do it.


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