Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The little paper that could

Once upon a time, over a year ago, a little paper was born. It was lovingly constructed out of the hard work of several collaborators, including a couple of undergrads. The little paper was sent off with high hopes and fanfare to a conference.

The poor little paper was rejected.

Sadness and despair ensued among the collaborators, but the PI saw that there was a lot of good in the little paper. So the PI went back to the drawing board, revisited and revised some of the experiments that the undergrads did, and carefully addressed the reviewers' comments and concerns. Once again, the little paper was sent off, with high hopes and fanfare, to a conference.

The poor little paper was rejected again.

There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. The collaborators wondered if the little paper should just be left to die in dignity. But the PI saw the promise of the little paper. She knew that there were some new results that would make the little paper a stronger little paper. She saw that the reviewers had very positive things to say about the potential impact of the little paper on the larger field. She saw that even the worst reviews acknowledged that the little paper had a lot of strengths.

So the PI went back and tried again, and was rejected a couple more times. But each time it was rejected, she found a new venue, addressed the latest round of reviewer comments, and promptly sent the little paper out. And each time, the reviews came back a little more positive.

One day, the PI went to send the paper to the next appropriate conference. She gasped when she saw that it was one of the bigger, tougher conferences in her field. The little paper would be going up against the Big Bad Strong Papers! She was a bit apprehensive, but shrugged and sent it off anyway.

This time, the little paper was accepted. And there was much rejoicing in Little Paper Land.

Sometimes, perserverence and a strong belief in the value of your work really do pay off.

13 comments:

CSDL said...

Congratulations on your paper!

I know this may sound funny, but this makes me want to work on one of my papers which could be dubbed, the little paper that could not.

Thanks for the encouragement, hopefully this one becomes a little paper the could as well :-)

Ianqui said...

Congrats! I've definitely given up on papers much more quickly than that (although I am sort of proud of myself for coming back to some data that seemed totally worthless before which now seems to have just a little bit of promise). I bet the undergrads are psyched.

Iris said...

Cong. Jane. I really Admire your long breath and struggle to get your paper accepted, so, can you give us please some more insight and advice when writing conference and journal papers from your own experiance?

Also, in a field such as CS, if you didn't pitch your idea (i.e. publish a paper in your project) things get old as time goes on, thus, another advice from you in this respect will be highily appearicated!!


Thanks
Iris

Dr. Free-Ride said...

Woo hoo! It's always good to reach the end of what has seemed like an interminable slog, and this seems like a very good end indeed.

post-doc said...

I'm proud to be one of those rejoicing in Little Paper Land. I have one of those papers myself - it's still going through revisions and I fear I shall weep for it if it comes back rejected after trying so hard to be pretty and smart for this particular journal.

Congratulations!!

Michael Flessas said...

Good to learn that the Little Paper didn't just fold.

Saoirse said...

Congratulations! That's awesome.

a said...

Congratulations! And thanks for the cute story!

Amelie said...

"a" hit a wrong key and was not planning to congratulate anonymously...

Jane said...

Thanks, everyone!

Iris, to address your second question, I'm lucky in that this work was pretty novel when I started, and is still pretty novel now, so it's all still very timely and there's still a lot of space to innovate and contribute in this particular area. As far as your first question...what I've found really helps in the writing and rewriting of papers is (a) a strong conviction in what it is you're trying to do, and in the novelty of your contribution; and (b) knowing how to read reviews---knowing what to pay attention to and what to let slide, and addressing the important points while acknowledging and (gently) rebuffing the not-so-valid criticisms. That second part, I think, is a skill learned over time. For me, my thesis advisor did a *really* good job of teaching me how to read and respond to reviews....the rest has been practice.

BrightStar said...

Nice work with the perseverance! I have had a similar paper journey, and it can be extremely discouraging during the process.

Chaser said...

YAYAYAYAYAYAAY!!! Congratulations!

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