I’m working on putting the finishing touches on a paper. A really lovely paper. The project and the writing itself have been a lot of fun, but coming to the end of the writing process has been a little more taxing. Did I mention that I really love this paper??
Here’s the deal. There are lots (>5) authors on this paper that are all involved in the editing of the text. Very hands on, all of us are. While I think that’s awesome, I also see problems with the complete democratic approach to editing a manuscript- especially when you can’t all physically be in the same room talking about issues that need to be resolved, and especially in the final stages prior to submission. When I’ve looked at the manuscript in the last couple of days I felt like there are parts of the text that I was reading for the first time…. and that shouldn’t be happening one or two days prior to submission!! Yesterday someone decided to remake one of the figures in a new way… but looking essentially exactly the same as the original version. I’m asking myself WHY??? We should be at the dotting the i(s) and crossing the t(s) stage, not the re-inventing the wheel stage.
Why is this happening? Who knows. Maybe I didn’t read the manuscript very well on previous runs, maybe my memory is shot, maybe I’m cranky?, Maybe we have too many cooks in the kitchen. Actually, I think the answer is in that last option (although I freely admit I probably am a little cranky)- there are too many of us pulling in too many different directions, or writing with slightly different emphasis. Normally I wouldn’t mind this- all good intellectual exchange and bla bla bla, make the manuscript better bla bla bla, but we are NOT at the early manuscript stage anymore here-we are the T-1 ready to submit revised manuscript stage. I think its time to start cutting back on the number of cooks, and have someone be the ‘decider’ (or maybe the two senior authors) on when we’ve reached the appropriate level of awesomeness in the manuscript to stop worrying about absolute perfection and push this thing out the door.
Otherwise, the manuscript will languish here for too much longer with too many cooks each adding their own secret sauce.