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Experiences with publishing

  1. Aug 3, 2014 #1
    I just saw this


    and I wanted to hear about other peoples experiences in publishing in physics, and compare them to my own experiences.

    What role do your students, advisers, and collaborators play? How do you navigate disagreement with them? When does conflict with other published work or accepted knowledge become an impediment? Does having a high profile co-author make a difference? What are the differences between publishing in a new field vs a mature field?

    Please share any unique experiences.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    That shows the current one, so next week it will show something different. For me it shows now The neurobiology or writing - to be honest, I see no obvious connection with your question.
  4. Aug 3, 2014 #3


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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    It varies considerably. I try very much to make sure that the people who fit the common criteria for inclusion (i.e. making substantial contributions to the work in more than one aspect of it) are included in the authorship. I try to keep my students in the primary author role - doing the writing and re-writing. This was how my PhD advisor did it with me.

    Discussion. Fortunately I haven't had any "emotional" disagreements. In my experience it's usually the primary author who ends up making the final call on any issues - often because that's the person who's doing the majority of the writing and has to decide what's going in. You can always vote with your feet, so to speak, but that can have consequences, particularly if you're tied into a collaboration that's larger than a single publication.

    Of course it depends primarily on the nature of the conflict.

    On a more subtle level, a lot can depend on the opinions of the referees and editors of the journal. If your work is in direct contrast with that of a referee, that person may simply reject it outright. My field is broad enough though that there is usually more than one option to publish something and if you feel like a referee is stonewalling your work, you can try another journal (and hope that they do not pick the same referees).

    Also, I suspect that the more controversial or contrary to the status quo something is, the finer the teeth of the comb the reviewers are likely to use. This can delay publication. (Although in a lot of ways, I think that's a good thing).

    A lot can also depend on how the information is presented too. It's one thing to publish controversial data. But data is data. It's another to make a controversial conclusion. Now that I have a fair amount of experience refereeing papers, I realise you have two intellectual processes at work that result in a manuscript. The first is the logical/scientific one - the actual scientific methodology applied. The second is the translator. Unfortunately I think too often a lot can get lost in this second step. The authors think one thing and then write something else, often unintentionally.

    You know I'd really like to say no to this one, but I suspect there is a measurable effect. I know as a referee (for the non-double-blind journals) when I see a few names, I can't help, but think I know (of) this person, I know he or she is meticulous, this should be an easy review... but sometimes I've actually been rather surprised at how many issues I find. I try not to let names influence me. I'd prefer not to know who the authors are. But all referees are human.

    Most referees have also been around the block enough to know that a high-profile co-author can simply be "senior author" contributor - someone who really had little to do with the actual work presented, but who happened to be the PI who's grant the work was done under, or the lab supervisor or whatever.

    In a mature field there will be an established body of literature that needs to be cited and factored into the interpretation of the work. There will be well-known, well-defined problems, and likely not a lot of low-hanging fruit. It will be relatively easy to identify qualified reviewers.

    In a new field, you will have all the low-hanging fruit, but it will be harder to identify the relevant work that's already been done (largely because it will come from other fields), the problems and methods for tackling them will not always be well-established and so you'll need to spend a lot of time writing about basic concepts. Qualified reviewers will be more difficult to find, and I suspect there will be a lot more uncertainty in the whole process.
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