Monday, April 14, 2014

Papers are a lot of work, and some of it is even worth the effort

I often say that the current model for publishing is a complete waste of time, and I still think that's true for so many parts of the publishing process, like dealing with reviews, etc.  It's hard for young faculty and even harder for trainees, for whom so much rides on the seemingly arbitrary whims of reviewers and editors.  Wouldn't it just be better to post on a blog, I often wonder?

I think deep down I know the answer is no.  Not that publishing in a particular journal is really important.  But there is something to putting together a well-constructed, high quality paper that is a worthy use of time. Often it feels like finishing a paper is just a bunch of i dotting and t crossing. Yet I've often found that it's in those final stages that we make the most crucial insights. Hedia's lincRNA paper is a good example: it was only towards the end when we were writing it up that we figured out what was really going on with the siRNA vs. ASO oligonucleotide treatment.  The details aren't so important, but the point is that this was in some ways the most important finding of the paper, and it was lurking within our data almost until the very end.

I've found the last few weeks before submission to be a stressful period, when you really want to get the paper out the door and at the same time you feel like you're putting a lot on the line that you want to get right.  It's exciting but scary to put something out there. And it's especially scary to look at your data again, here at the end of the road, and wonder what it all means after years of hard work. But I feel like this mental incubation period is a necessary part of doing good science, and where many new ideas are born.

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