I submitted 3 papers last month. Here’s the latest. You may remember that paper #1 was accepted pending minor revisions. I made said minor revisions and resubmitted it at 4 pm on a Friday- two days before my update for my grant was due. I was hoping- but not realistically imagining- that I might get an acceptance letter before I had to turn in my update. It must be the month for granting DrDrA’s wishes– because at 8 pm that very Friday night, I got the official acceptance letter from the editor. So- Manuscript in press is now in my grant update… which is a great thing- and I bow down to the editor for the speed-of-light turnaround. I see the proofs are in my inbox this morning.
Reviews from paper #2 came back earlier today. It’s an acceptance, also with revisions. I have the feeling this one will go back to the reviewers. Maybe. One of the reviewers is enthusiastic and has minor points to be addressed. It’s the other reviewer that’s giving me heartburn. Not that I can’t address what that reviewer has said- but some of what that reviewer has said is SO UNBELIEVABLY OFF that its almost unimaginable. Basically told me:
1. That one of the bread and butter techniques we are using (which is so so straight forward that my ten year old could do it, and in fact- I’ve been doing it for about the last 15 years-) was done ALL WRONG. I’m going to have to bury that reviewer with literature to straighten this out. In a nice way, naturally. And if that doesn’t work I’ll have to beat him/her over the head with my shoe (I’m KIDDING people).
2. The dreaded ‘preliminary’ AGAIN. Sheesh. He apparently thought that despite the fact that we had provided the evidence for/against (there is none against) our hypothesis-… which is what we thought we were supposed to be doing… we had not provided the evidence for his/her hypothesis. Dude-and I mean that in the most genderless way- if you want to have the hypothesis- you actually have to write the paper ok?
Anyway- I shouldn’t be bent out of shape- it’s more or less an acceptance after all.
Thus far, not much word on paper #3, although it was submitted first. It is under review- hopefully for not much longer…
I’m amazed how quick your turn arounds have been. I submitted a paper in July and I’m still waiting to hear anything, even after sending an email to the editor’s assistant. Argh. I really wanted this paper to be in press this fall.
That’s fucking awesome!! Congrats!
And BTW, in my experience it is pretty hard to predict from the tone of reviews whether the editor will send the paper back out or not. It is much more informative what the boilerplate in the editors letter signals. If it is clear from the boilerplate that it is “minor revisions”, then the editor is unlikely to send it back out, regardless of the tone of the reviews themselves. Conversely, if the boilerplate signals “revise and resubmit”, then it is likely to go back out to reviewers, regardless of the tone of the reviews themselves.
I was honestly shocked at the speed of the review. The one that came back first was the last one that I submitted. The one that just came back is the second one I submitted. Now, I’m just waiting on the first one I submitted… which will be the last to come back.
PP- The criticsms are pretty weak and many don’t even require a response in the text. 1 minor experiment may be needed… which we will do. Despite the fact that I don’t think it adds much… I think it will go back out..
Nice work sneaking the acceptance in before the grant deadline! We just had a paper (VERY directly related to the topic of the grant) accepted one day AFTER the grant deadline. Luckily the head of our specific review committee was happy to add the acceptance letter to the application on our behalf.
Congratulations. Here’s hoping those Science Gods keep looking down on you!
Awesome, DrdrA! You ARE on a roll. Maybe now would be a good time to buy a Lotto ticket….
Re getting bent out of shape about reviewers, I think that fewer of us would feel this way if time and money weren’t so precious. If all the time and money in the world were available, doing additional (but perhaps unnecessary) experiments would be no big deal. In reality, time and money are limited, and it can be a bit frustrating to have to expend resources on an experiment that doesn’t seem central to the manuscript. At least in this case it’s worth it, since the paper is accepted!
Yep, the “preliminary” argument is really frustrating. I have a colleague who had an explicitly new question, complete design (that is, straightforward analysis allowed), reasonnable sample size (ca 300 datapoints in a analysis with only a few factors and covariables), significant and unexpected results, and one reviewer was concerned about the experiment being only preliminary (and “must” be replicated instead of “should” be…).
[Note: even worse, the second reviewer got confused between factor df and sample size].
The thing is that a post-doc at the end of a position cannot possibly redo an entire experiment. Even more since this was a side project, not within the context of a main experiment. Would that mean the post-doc has to wait for the reviewer to publish its own result first or what?
Congrats and continued best wishes, drdrA!
Cath- Freak luck, I tell you. Just Freakish luck.
Bugdoc- how right you are- TIME and money are in such short supply. I hope that we can get that one experiment knocked out by the end of next week!
ScientistMother, Pinus and Anonymoustache (and where have you been??)- Thanks. You are too kind…!
Laurent- Yes, the ‘preliminary’ thing isn’t very pleasant- but well, I think we can get around that.. so it is all good.
Speaking of reviewer requests for more experiments in the context of a baseline “this is interesting, important, and convincing work” reviews, I should do a post at DrugMonkey on how to finesse that shit without doing the experiments. Here’s a taste:
One of the best arguments to be made in refusing to do a suggested experiment is to enumerate the possible outcomes, and then make a convincing argument that none of the possible outcomes would materially alter the strength of scope of the main conclusions of the paper that the reviewers already found “interesting, important, and convincing”.
A friend recently responded in exactly this way to a reviewers comment that “the use of [especially fancy control] was very convincing, but what would be even more impressive would be to use [double super fancy shit that doesn’t control for anything relevant and might not work for uninteresting reasons]”. She said, “While I agree that [double super fancy shit that doesn’t control for anything relevant and might not work for uninteresting reasons] would be “impressive” were it to work, if it didn’t work, it could be for uninteresting reasons. Thus, no matter how this suggested experiment turns out, it would not in any way alter the scope or strength of the main conclusions of the manuscript. Because this suggested experiment is laborious and time consuming, we decline to perform it.”
The motherfucker is in press right now!
That is an excellent thought- I’ve been thinking about this a lot this past week as well, while I put off sending that manuscript back (while grant writing). Just because one of the experiments suggested by the reviewer is just such an experiment with a variable outcome that is unlikely to be illuminating in every event.
I’m looking forward to that post! Creative ways to get out of doing useless experiments are always appreciated.
“One of the best arguments to be made in refusing to do a suggested experiment is to enumerate the possible outcomes, and then make a convincing argument that none of the possible outcomes would materially alter the strength of scope of the main conclusions of the paper”
I like this — it’s a very practical suggestion. And, it’s clearly the way to go when the “control” requested is difficult/time-consuming/a pain and so on. But, what’s the threshold? How much work should the “control” be before it makes more sense to enumerate the reasons not to do it, rather than just doing it?