Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Publication Record

My manuscript got accepted!  Anytime a manuscript gets accepted, it's gratifying, and this one is especially so.  As a grad student, I wrote a draft of a manuscript in my 3rd year that continued to be developed until shortly after graduation.  I submitted this just before I stopped working.  At the time, it seemed like the missing piece- the paper will get out, I'll update my CV and get a job.  So simple! This paper went through 3 journals and was finally accepted on its 6th submission.  It's about time!

There is lots of time to think during 6 submissions.  Can you really believe you are a good scientist if your peers won't publish your work?  If your 'peers' only ask dumb questions about your science, do you really have to respond?  How many submissions would it take before you'd just scrap the idea all together.  Fortunately, before I came up with answers to those questions, we were able to address the actual issue with most of those rejections.  My super specialized/limited-audience work wasn't ideal for a general Biochemistry type journal, we really need a specialized journal.  Antiviral Research gave us legitimate feedback that was reasonable for us to respond to (Thank you!), and now I've got my second first author publication.  Phew!

As long as this process has drawn out now, I'm not sure it is going to be the fix-all I imagined.  Other papers came out in the field (it figures that drug discovery in polyomaviruses is trendy now), so my work isn't exactly seminal.  But more than that, it has been a long time since anyone asked about my publication record.  I told a industry scientist once that I've got a couple papers to my name, and he gave me a sort of patronizing look.  I've gotten less interested in bench work, where it might come up more often.  Neither internship asked about papers.  I've tried drafting resumes to technical writing positions that include my papers, but they seem like a cumbersome way to demonstrate "I have communication skills."  I'm still figuring out the best ways to use these.

This also raises a few questions.  I no longer have a semi-regular excuse to communicate with my old adviser.  We had discussed writing a review, based on the intro to my dissertation.  That's easily a year out of date now, so it would require significant effort to update, and there was some doubt anyone would publish such a thing (and after this ringer, I'd love to write something that could get published).  But would it make a difference?  I don't think I've had a hard time finding a job because my Antiviral Res paper wasn't out yet, I think it's because I don't have preclinical experience or a background in immunology.  Would publishing a review change my prospects as all?  Is it a good idea to require semi-regular updates with my old adviser while I am looking for a position?

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