We're a little crazy, about science!

Semi-final paper edits

Okay, with all the “big” things happening the past few days I really need to switch gears and focus on the other major deadline I’ve got coming up and that’s the response to “last paper,” which is still not due for another 2-3 weeks I believe so I still have time, but it’s not just me that needs to sign off on it, it’s all my collaborators and that is the problem. Mostly because last paper took so long in part due to disagreements within our group.

Quick refresher for anyone who doesn’t read regularly/often. “Last paper” was named as such because it was the final paper I had to work on in my four paper blockage of journal papers. It was a very intense few years there where I kept writing and editing papers, but nothing seemed to happen to them. Then the dam broke and suddenly all, but last paper have been published. Technically “robot paper” isn’t “fully” published yet, but it’s accepted and I’m waiting for the journal to get it’s shit together and post the open access version… any day now.

So last paper was a huge undertaking for me and it was exhausting. I did so much work for this paper it’s not even funny and that’s probably part of the problem. The paper was so damned technical that there are a lot of things we could talk about or touch on that we didn’t have space for or for whatever reason decided against including.

After submitting the reviewers we had gave us thorough feedback, very thorough. I’m talking a few pages of comments for each reviewer and there were two. Which means now I need to write a response letter and address every single comment they made. A good rule of thumb that I’ve learned over the years is that every comment given leads to a change in the paper, no matter how small. Some of the comments this round were redundant. Again, a lot of technical stuff went into this paper, so there were a lot of questions about how I did it, how reliant the results were on what I did, etc.

Since we got the feedback I’ve been slowly addressing everything. The catch is, almost every comment requires me to look up sources, cite different literature, etc. That alone can take hours, per comment. Some are short and easy to address, we had a few typos, because of course you do. There were small changes to figures that make them easier to follow along, those were nice and fast. But overall there has been a significant amount of research going into addressing some of the things brought up.

Now you may be wondering how much work could this actually entail? I mean we wrote the paper, there can’t be that much work left to fix the things requested… right? Well you would be surprised. Right now last paper is sitting at 15 pages with 2 of those pages being citations. Technically it’s 14.5 pages, but we’ll round up. Right now my response letter is just as long at 15 pages and it will probably end up being 16 pages or so by the time I’m finished.

In other words, I’ll have written more for the response than I did for the whole paper and there are zero figures in the response and about half a dozen in the paper, which if we removed all the figures for a fair comparison we would be looking at roughly 10 pages and 2 of them would still be purely citations. My response letter has zero citations in it (because those go into the paper), so it’s long. Very, VERY, long and incredibly detailed. I need to not only say we made the change, but point out the page number and line number of that change, plus quote it directly into the response so the reviewers won’t have to dig through the paper to find it.

Thankfully I’ve got 98% of it written. There’s still a few things I need to address and probably more things after my collaborators look over everything, but it’s mostly done and ready to send out. Tomorrow I’m hoping to make the final push to just getting it done so I can move on with other things that need to be taken care of. For example, I am working on writing another paper as I’m working on this, so that will become my primary focus once I’ve finished addressing all the things I need to do with last paper.

All in all, I’m glad we got such thorough feedback from the reviewers. I know I’ve said this before, but it means that the end result will be a paper that is easier to read and easier to follow along with, which is important. It just is a lot of work, so much work.

I am excited to get this paper published though so I can show off all the cool things we did and the cool figures I made!


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