Field of Science

New Publication Record!

The Phactor is not and never has been a prolific publisher; years of data seem to easily distill into a single table or figure, but my publication record now spans 35 years. The Phactor and a most terrific collaborator submitted a manuscript to a major journal in our field on 11 May 2011 and it was accepted pending only trivial revisions on 24 May 2011. Today, 27 May, the revised manscript was resubmitted, and it's final acceptance could come within a week. This is simply amazing, a new record for certain, and it does show how electronic communications have speeded up the process. Everything used to have to be mailed to the editor, and then the review copies mailed to reviewers, after the reviewers were contacted and agreed to read the paper. Even in an efficient operation, this could take 3 weeks, and if you got an acceptance with minor revisions in 2-3 months you figured that wasn't too bad. Of course any changes meant retyping the manuscript. Remember typing? Cutting and pasting? No, of course, not. Who does? The Phactor lets students play with an old electric typewriter every now and again, just for grins, and my first pc is stored in my lab for reasons not altogether clear, but mostly to show people how utterly primitive they were. Turn it on and up comes a blinking cursor. Now what, they ask? Indeed. So in some respects this certainly represents progress.
Now in total honesty, our collaboration was arranged in 2007, and the specimens were collected while doing tropical field work with another collaborator that fall. The field work was published in 2009. But we got about 90% of the project done during my sabbatical visit, and the last 10% then took another 18 months. The manuscript was half done 2 years ago, but one thing and another kept us from finishing things up. So in a total start to finish sense, maybe this wasn't such a record. The field work didn't set any records either because it was based upon two previous seasons of field work dating back 7-8 years. Lastly you only truly appreciate the easy ones because of all the hard ones, the ones you had to battle with editors and reviewers to get published, the ones that took you so long to do the work and so long to prepare. Ah, well, another revision and another submission (June 1 deadline) await. But now off to the field where a project started in 2006 is still underway, and only now are the first results pending publication. So why do we do this? Well, it's actually interesting and intellectually stimulating; we do learn things. And it's our job to teach science students to do science, and mostly that's done by what is still an apprenticeship approach, working with a "master", who must be actively involved in science to provide the environment in which the student can learn. But it's still fun to see your name in print.

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