Sunday, March 09, 2014

Are we there yet? After submtting journal articles, what happens next

Having completed a commitment of the postdoc writing scholarship (3 articles/3 months), what happens next is acceptance, rejection and something in between.
Having submitted 3 articles, one nationally, two internationally plus a conference paper, I looked forward to what others would make of them.

Article one; I thought this was the easiest of my papers. It was a descriptive and hopefully (so i thought), a persuasive account of new practice.
What came back was a thankyou letter.
"The subject matter looks very interesting and ground-breaking.
Thank you too for ensuring that (named organisation) has approved the submission of your article.
We will send your article out to two referees in our double blind review process, and we will be in touch with you
as soon as we have their feedback.

They appeared to like it. I have heard nothing more.
This journal publishes only twice a year. The closing date for submissions for its June publication has only just passed. I chose the journal because the information i present is local and contextually based. Letting others know of whats available locally, how and why it has evolved was written with the intent of local impact on practice. I owed it to my participants to have their knowledge shared locally as a priority.


Article 2; conference paper. This was the most fun one to write. It pushed boundaries on layout and language.
It's a provocative piece.
What came back was an automated acceptance of submission.
Then a few weeks later some more detailed commentary: very positive on form, and some concern on its function.
Under "Changes required for acceptance":
The paper is intriguing and innovative in form but isn’t centrally focused on xxxxx. It really deals with research issues and how to report research ...
Detailed comments
We really like this paper and its bold, playful style. A couple of points for addressing:

1. The focus is methodological, to do with research dissemination, and that is itself a useful contribution to the conference: however, as stated above, it would be good to see more linkage ... connections are currently left unstated.
2. This links to our second point, ... we’d like to see a bit more on the project here as a way of grounding the theoretical/representational work of the paper.
And, as an aside, rather than a requested amendment, the author makes it a bit too easy for the reader not to engage with the txtspk paratext: s/he might include a final sentence or two which is txtspk only, and deny us the comfort of the translation.

For this particular audience, the changes requested were well deserved,: relate it more strongly to the conference.
This was done and it has been accepted.


Article 3; An advance on article 1 for an international audience. Its a better article than article 1; i had mulled it for longer and read a bit more.
What came back was an automated acceptance of submission.
Followed two weeks later by requirement of further anonymity- remove names of ethics boards, remove name of organisation where the study occurred.
Followed by acknowledgement of the resubmission and it being sent for peer review.
10 weeks later the peer review feedback is received, and is very positive:
"The reviews are in general favourable and suggest that, subject to minor revisions, your paper could be suitable for publication. Please consider these suggestions, and I look forward to receiving your revision."
This is followed by commentary from the editor pointing to what seemed contradictory: dramatic use of prose- nonetheless liked by the reviewer and by the editor, but noted as unusual in (this) journal publishing.
The area of emotional support versus counselling, one reviewer and the editor hold the view that helpline work is not counselling but is emotional support. Change the words used.
This is then followed by the detailed feedback of the two reviewers.
"An excellent and timely paper"
develop the relevance section more, persuade reader of what they might do/apply (fair comment, but can i do it in the word count?)
From the other reviewer:
One of the points i thought i had made insufficiently persuasive. (S/he is right).
Clarify term: reference to a PDA, even when also written as a personal digital assistant, needs describing further.
More detail of how to actually do this new practice, how tensions are resolved, a more operational account wanted.

Getting back to this article, so much later, is difficult, my time is dedicated to other things.
I finally got back to it, some 4 weeks after receiving the feedback, checked with the editor that this was ok, for the life of me i could not find where it was written that i have until May.
8 pomodoros later and some peer support, and i have made all the changes requested regarding change of words, describing the PDA, and some deleting in anticipation of making a little more space for readers to ahve more info about what they might actually do.

Article 4.
Received an automatically generated acknowledgement of receipt. Followed by a polite, supportive rejection letter.
We have pre-reviewed your manuscript and decided that it is not a good fit for xxxx. Although the paper makes some nice observations, and we appreciate your efforts, the manuscript as a whole lacks the clear focus and solid grounding in the literature that would be necessary for it to make its points effectively. For this reason we feel that it will not be of significant interest to a broad spectrum of xxxx readers.
I was not too surprized. I felt i was rushing it, I also felt it was more a show and tell rather than being suited to the theoretical stance of this journal. At some point i need to select a better space for this one.


I am feeling positive about the peer review process.
Its been a good thing to have some expert knowledge and academic focus on the content of what i had written of. While having had excellent feedback previously from my PhD supervisor and fellow peers on the PhD journey, I had not yet had feedback specific to the content rather than the process of research.

Here's some other expert advice on peer revew from the Emerald Publishing group
It really is great that others have taken the time to look at what i might do better. This article also provides a format, and example, for responding to comments so the next submission post revisions might be itemised.

And some advice on phrasing rebuttal of comments made in the peer review.

And from Springer publishershttp://www.springer.com/authors/journal+authors/journal+authors+academy?SGWID=0-1726414-12-837830-0 a similar request for a covering letter to address the points raised, and for the tone to remain respectful.

If feeling somewhat deflated on having to resubmit or even resubmit elsewhere, take heart, here's some research that suggests more citations occur for resubmitted papers, though seemingly counter intuitive, it provides a reasonable argument that the process of rejection is making better articles than those accepted on a first run.
Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2012.11583
Discussed here





Thursday, January 16, 2014

post phd writing

I committed to writing 3 articles in 3 months, with my phd university having advertised writing scholarships. I hadn't taken this up imeediately on handing in the phd because at that stage of not knowing if it had passed, my voice was stifled...so was my energy and creativity, but 6 months after gearing I had passed was perfect for me and fortunately my phd uni was re-advertising these.
My own workplace uni i then had to negotiate this time with. My inline manager was very supportive figuring it was a win for them also, so all my teaching time (just about) was bought out. Juggling my other roles continued.

I achieved 3 articles and a conference paper done in 3 months 3 weeks. Thanks hugely to my phd supervisor, and particularly also to my friendship with Anne a colleague that shared the phd student and post-doc writing journey.
It still involved late night writing, my time management never seems to stay within 'normal working hrs'.
And now they are coming back to bite me post the scholarship time with changes/amendments.
Still it was an excellent opportunity, I cant imagine being so productive without the impetus of the scholarship committment having driven me.
Success at this was also made possible by undertaking 4 writing retreats across this time, one with two friends from my phd at a distance student days with fellow phd journeyers Anne and Heather at a hired bach in Waikenae on the Kapiti coast north of Wellington.

This was just before starting the post doc scholarship so i used it to read Heather's copy of Thomson and Kamlers book on writing for peer review journals. There is now an ebook version, but at the time i was waiting 3 weeks for my own copy so had photographed pages from the copy borrowed :)
This was followed by a work-place organized writing retreat of 5 days at Waiwera,30 mins north of Auckland,not quite so good- workplace conversations intrude. At this one ai slavishly attempted an article in the 5 days, done but dull and deservedly got the feedback from my phd supervisor that I had vanished in it, my own voice gone..rewrote it over the following 10 days.
I then did one a month later with Anne at her family's bach at Waimarama, about 3/4 of an hour south of Napier. Particularly challenging, and surprizingly advantagious to have no internet, sms could be achieved halfway along the beach if desperate
but also working within the constraints of charged computer time with a dodgy generator made for extreme bursts of concentrated writing alongside enforced thinking time.
Then at the beginning of the third month I did a further writing retreat with the Tauhara academic women's writing retreat. Well structured with small group work for 4/4 an hour each night that could edit or do a sustained conversation on one's 'work in progress' plus optional hr sessions on things like first sentences, last sentences, pomodoros,, and at which myself another colleague also introduced Thompson and Kamler's tinytext method of abstract through to article writing. Excellent role models/resources to call on, and lunch and dinners catered. Well balanced time between writing, getting feedback, creative writing, and fun.

The timing for this was good: end of academic year so minimal teaching load to escape from, and summer 'holidays' when amendments can be considered in an unrushed way.
Some time with a colleague online via skype for pomodoros and also at a uni library with another colleague in the week before Christmas got things done.
Other useful learnings along the way; formulaic writing does not work for me (or perhaps for anyone?). The book by Thomson and Kamler writing for peer review journals was useful, providing the confidence of a tinytext where i could check what i was doing was meeting the 'needs of editors' but it was an error on my part to skip past the section on voice. Rewriting with voice greatly improved the writing i was doing.
However there is no silver bullet, no paint by numbers solution and writing a journal article in 7 days defied my best intentions. Writing 3 in 4 weeks was more doable. This one was one of the resources i accessed on the women's writing retreat, I know Ive looked at this one before but didnt consciously use it this time around, Writing your journal article in 12 weeks
Mapping out potential articles in advance and revisiting it during the writing was also useful so i would not be repeating myself in different venues and so i could sustain the momentum. Choosing journals was something i became more comfortable with as my 'voice' altered and as i became more conscious of the spaces those articles i liked were coming from.
And Marianne at the Tauhara retreat was beautifully grounding in pointing out the cinderella ness of trying to put a thesis into a journal article and how hard if not impossible a task this was. Loved the empathy.
The other success to be gained from the scholarship was in confidence gained.
The feedback gained so far extends this, there is nothing as sweet as getting real feedback saying things like:
"We really like this paper and its bold, playful style. A couple of points for addressing..."

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Ehara i te mea

Feeling quite touched that YL acknowledged my doctorate today, fo rplacing Youthline into a stronger position from which they can move forward.
These lovely people who were so willing to share their stories with me, their openess and honesty in disclosing what they hoped for, feared, and worked to create; while they do the work, i got to tell their story and i get a doctorate off their work...
They asked me if i had a favourite waiata, So i chose ehara i te mea

This love it is not a new thing,
but is a taonga handed down by those who have gone before,
from one generation to the next
Ehara i te mea
Nō nāianei te aroha
Nō nga tūpuna
Tuku iho, tuku iho

Te whenua, te whenua
Te oranga o te iwi
Nō nga tūpuna
Tuku iho, tuku iho

Whakapono, tumanako
Te aroha te aroha;
Nō nga tūpuna
Tuku iho, tuku iho.
Not the thing
of recent times, is love
but by the ancestors it has been
passed down, passed down.

From the land, the land
comes the wellbeing of the people;
by the ancestors it has been
passed down, passed down.

Faith, hope
and love;
by the ancestors they have been
passed down, passed down.



Tuesday, November 05, 2013

#acwrimo (academic writing month) day 5

Today my goal is to work out how to use scrivener. I've known other tweeps rave about it, and popped it on my to do list post phd.
I'd glanced at it before but it had seemed not quite intuitive at the stage i was at in my wriitng, I suspected it was more prepatory oriented than useful most of the way through a big project.

My intention: writing this months journal article and/or for organizing my research wriitng ideas for the coming year

First step started googling scrivener, for a paint by numbers guide on how to write a journal article using it
Found nothing that simplistic in 20 mins.
Have since st myself Scrivener as a series of pomodoro sessions, as i am really feeling avoidant of writing at the moment. Might be why Im investigating the software....but half a day dedicated to this and i assume i will know if it will suit me.

First pomodoro:
Found some descriptive accounts.Skim read them
Posted on #acwrimo my intent to use scrivener for the month, and got guided to the thesis whisperer.
Have now downloaded the free trial for a month.
and posted here.

Five pomodoro later
Ive worked my way through the essentials of the free scrivener download package.
Seems it has an ok template, which i can adapt for writing a paper.
Seems it does not do the scoping that I thought it might do.






Sunday, November 03, 2013

Finding voice as a writer

I would never have completed the second journal article in two months had i not finished the month with a writing retreat.
What changed?

Talking with Anne.
I was able to clarify what i hated in the article I was writing.
Hearing myself saying it, I could now follow cj's advice: write an article i would want to read.
The world does not need more dull articles.
Snapped the shackles locking me down.
I dont have to pretend to be a dissociated writer. If painting i would be telling myself dont have to stay inside the lines.
Im still finding my way on this, but there's a bit of a transformation happening.

The other significant change was an absence of internet. I'm really glad for my endnote library in that i have articles there, and reasonable notes about them, taht makes retrieval efficient.
I know also had i had internet available, id waste time searching for who else said something rather than trusting my own thinking things through.
The tiny bits that needed follow up could be asterixed and returned to when i had internet. (These areas i fixed inside of 1 hr)

A further contributing factor was an extremely dodgy generator at the bach we were at. Day 1 was good, but days 2 and 3 and 4 would give short bursts of generator; at most 30 mins at a time...then id write frantically till i ran out of juice...then forced thinking and planning or resting time. Couldnt have planned this. But it felt very pomodoro like.

And the company and the setting were great. There were hills that could be climbed. no. sea to swim in. no. beach walks yes. cafes no shops no.


The article is now finished.

I had thought (since i had not taken it with me, and because i abandoned the plan after the first draft of a "tiny text" that Thomson & Kamler's (2013) book on writing for peer review had not worked for me this time (similarities to a previous article kept blocking me)
I think i had missapplied Thomson and Kamler's work trying to turn it into a paint by numbers style ... (my error, not theirs i hasten to add).
However, what i found on reflection was:
I did attend to voice (the first half of their book
I revisited the overall balance of the article, adjusting the front load so there was room for my argument
And I attended to 'the take home message'.
Hadnt realized at the time how much of their advice I had absorbed.

In the last month Ive had an article sent for a conference, and an article written. Ive read some books on getting ideas known. And Im now going to go back to these, they have a style i find inspiring.
so Im 8.5 weeks into the 3 month writing scholarship, Ive produced 2 articles and a conference paper.
Ive read one book about how to write academic articles for peer review and two popular writing books that present ideas.

My next goal, to move the writing into the future, as Im feeling a bit locked into the past.
I've #acwrimo dedicated for this.

Reference
Thomson, P., & Kamler, B. (2013). Writing for peer reviewed journals: Strategies for getting published. London: Routledge.




Thursday, October 24, 2013

Academic journal writing and post doc writing angst

Either i, or the article i struggle with are not made for a 7 day plan. Four days later and i have made progress, but not without huge angst.
The article has writhed and refused to settle.

I have undertaken further reading. Usefully.
I now have a better consideration for where this article is going.
It will not replicate the prior one.
It will not be the prior one with a variation on examples either.
Its evolved a little further, and its exploring through examples a little more detail if the therapeutic relationship as experienced by young people.
Retrospectively that is so easy to say. A week after i thought i had it mapped, i now know where it is going,
This is no paint by numbers but an organic process that until i have written, i have very little knowledge oof where it will go.

I suspect to think otherwise is to be quite seriously deluded.

I am now at 2000 words of a max 60000.

They are so much better structured though than when i was last near this point.

Seriously htough, this is a self torturing endeavour and I wonder where the joy of writing has gone.

I know the conference paper was fun. I also now that ifI had not made commitments I would have blown this particular article off.