Success! Journal paper 4 of 4
I’ve been waiting for this day for years, but here we are. The fourth and final paper, what I’m calling “last paper” has been accepted for publication as of this morning! It’s been a long, hard journey and this paper didn’t make anything easier, but it’s almost over. It just needs to go to typesetting and that will be the last of last paper. As with the others, it’s time to look back and the journey last paper took and how I finally got here.
If we went chronologically last paper would really be second paper, but last paper is last paper because it was the last one to have the data fully process and the paper written. The first paper chronologically was robot paper, so last paper has been with me for awhile now. In fact, it was my first task for my PhD and if I had realized how large of a hurdle they were asking me to jump I would’ve pushed back some, but hindsight is 20/20 I guess and you don’t know what you don’t know. Of course if school-PI knew how hard it was going to be he probably wouldn’t have given it to me either.
Over the years, and it has been years, I’ve written about how I was failing at basically everything. Last paper was the last of a four journal paper pileup I had on my hands. The work itself was new, I didn’t understand the analysis, and the data we collected were incredibly hard to work with because the dataset itself was very, very, noisy and it turns out that noise couldn’t be completely filtered, so I had to find creative ways to work around it.
The paper started prior to COVID, like months prior, so once COVID hit everything entered into a fugue state where things were happening, but it didn’t really feel like it at the time. Each progress update was minimal and there was a lot of failure (like this example) in those early days, weeks, months, years. Last paper took three years to finish, almost exactly three years. I had been thrown into the deep end of the water and I don’t think either of my main collaborators (hospital-PI and school-PI) knew enough about what I was doing to realize how hard it was to do.
But eventually I slowly and painfully climbed my way out of that hole. Last summer I presented some of the results from my work. I had to learn not one, but two different fields of study to get this paper done and I had to learn it all as quickly as possible. So looking back I forgive myself for taking so long. I did things no one in our lab had ever done, wrote custom code to do things that people didn’t even realize we could do, and basically I finally got the chance to showcase what I could do given enough time. The figures and supplementary materials of this paper are some of my best work to date, if I do say so myself.
So I wrote the paper and for the next three or four months we went back and forth with my co-authors about revisions and what we could and could not say. Hospital-PI is conservative when it comes to even making a hypothesis while school-PI loves coming up with big hypotheses. Neither approach is wrong or even more correct, but it led to a lot of headbutting and some falling out. Thankfully, after awhile we finally got it nailed down and submitted.
A few weeks ago the paper came back requesting edits and those were smooth, which was good since we were given a month to respond. I wrote the response, made the changes to the paper, and it was submitted for the second round of reviews the day before it was due. I don’t like cutting things close like that, but it seems to be a theme in research so I should probably do my best to get used to it despite the high stress level of it all. I didn’t expect to hear anything back for awhile, because these things take time and the response was over 14 pages (110% of that text, no figures, no citations, all my response).
But here we are and as of this morning the paper was accepted for publication! Well, provisionally accepted, meaning it has to go to typesetting and we need to address any remaining concerns from reviewers. So we should probably get those done as quickly as possible before the typesetter gets back to us.
Oh wait, the reviewers said we addressed all their comments so they had no further requests from us. I didn’t write 14 pages of a response letter for my health, I wanted to make sure we had the highest chance for success the first time and it looks like we cleared the bar. The paper will be open access, so I look forward to sharing it and the cool videos and figures I made. I’m really excited to show off this stuff because I made it all custom myself and I really liked it.
I’m not sure how long it will take, robot paper took significantly longer than I anticipated, so I’m hoping this won’t be that long, but I won’t make any claims. The next time we talk about last paper, you’ll finally get to know exactly what I’ve been doing and maybe all the cryptic hand waving and complaining about the dataset will finally make sense to everyone.
I could cry right now, I never thought we would get here. As always, thanks to all of you, my lovely readers, for the support, comments, likes, emails, reads, etc. When I first started almost three years ago, I thought the 365 days of academia project would be all give and no return and I was okay with that idea. But you all have given me more than I could’ve ever dreamed, so thank you, truely.