Epic Quest for Publication – by Ruth
Greetings, fellow postgrad researchers. My name is Ruth, I'm a first year Sociology PhD, and I'm (perhaps foolishly) attempting to get published. Unfortunately, the path to publication seems less clear with every step I take.
Let me take you back a year in order to provide some background. In the summer of 2010 I spent around three months doing little other than reading a blog and taking copious notes. I then produced an extensive MA dissertation based upon my research.
I was quite proud of the piece, and my referees seemed to think it was a rather decent too. I recieved a high mark and was recommended to publish it. I realised that a good MA dissertation isn't likely to translate directly into a good journal article, but (in the spirit of youthful naïvety and optimism) I felt enthusiastic about the work needed to bridge this gap.
After beginning work on my PhD I returned to the MA dissertation. I revised the piece, cut it down by several thousand words, and then submitted it to a journal recommended by my supervisor. Expecting rejection (this was, after all, my very first attempt at submission) I then began work on a second article based upon ideas and data that (to my disappointment) never quite managed to make it into the original piece.
The inevitable rejection came, along with a wealth of useful advice and comments. The editor and reviewers were broadly positive and had lots of pleasant things to say, and I felt enthusiastic about future revisions. In the meanwhile, I chose to concentrate upon the second article, having had its abstract accepted by a journal edited by my supervisor. I felt so confident about this one: it had a clearer structure, sharper analysis and a more thorough interrogation of the literature. Or so I felt.
It turns out that nepotism will only get you so far (my inner moralist is loving this). I've just received a second rejection, with my supervisor arguing that the piece was more muddled and less defined than the first. Amusingly, one of the more critical reviewers said that I should submit a new version of the second article to a journal that she just happens to edit, but it would need completely re-writing first.
None of this is entirely unexpected, but I'm feeling a little deflated. I expected rejections, and I expected revisions, but the impression I'm getting is that I need to sit down and write something entirely new from scratch for the umpteenth time.
I can deal with this - in fact I just had a terribly excited conversation with my supervisor about ideas for a new paper taking my analysis in a quite different direction - but I'm sad to have moved so far away from the original piece I wanted to publish: a work that's internally consistent and works in its own right but is way too bulky for most journals.