Sunday, June 24, 2012

Editing manuscripts

I've got a contract to substantially edit a manuscript this weekend that, um, is in serious need of my services.  I'm also trying to deal with comments from my own manuscript that will be celebrating a birthday along with my PhD soon.  Honestly, dealing with the revisions of my own paper makes me feel like a terrible scientist.  Looking for old files lost in what passed as my 'organizational system,' and trying to find ways to respond to very reasonable reviewers comments is really stressing me out.  Trying to navigate this all with my old adviser and our ever growing team of collaborators just feels messier and messier as we go through each resubmission. I just got an email from him that said, "Check submission 4, we used a different supplemental figure 4 there."  Oh. Uh.  Right. I can't keep this straight because, seriously, if I believed that publishing this paper would improve my career prospects, it would have torn me to bits months ago. 

This is why editing someone else's manuscript right now is fantastic.  Their manuscript is pretty rough.  The manuscript came with comments from two previous submission- one in 2006, one in 2008.  Both said the language needs help, but also such silly comments as, "it wasn't clear until halfway through the paper that there would be two drugs tested" and "You need to include the IRB approval" and my favorite "Please discuss the limitations of this study."  I'm not very far into this paper, but I suspect the experiments were well done.  They have just not been presented well at all.  And if THESE people can publish their paper, with it's outdated references and scattered presentation, I've got a shot for sure. I often feel like I must be the worst scientist ever.  Being an editor means I get to see other people's work before it is polished, I get to see the weakness and struggles they have, and it's nice to know others go through that too.

My manuscript is, in the scheme of things, probably pretty close to publication.  I'm looking forward to being done with it because I feel like I never really finished grad school while this keeps coming back into my life.  I'm completely resigned to the fact that it won't change my prospects at all.  Other, more interesting papers have come out in the last year.  And much more importantly, I'm able to get paid to do stuff that has nothing to do with small molecule inhibitors of polyomaviruses.  I'd like to talk more about this later, but I'm pretty sure I am not going to be employed to continue my grad work or anything like it.  So finishing it up would be a HUGE relief.

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