Yesterday, I finally pushed the big green “Submit” button on the research article that I’ve been working on sporadically for nearly two years. Pressing that button provided a relief, though an anticlimatic one; seeing years of my life summed up in a file just 46kb small felt more painful than joyous.
But for now I’ve done what I can, and I need to wait for the journal staff to give their verdict. However, that could be a slow process. When I and two other students helped with another study during our undergraduate degree, it wasn’t fully published until three years later. Hopefully my paper won’t need too many revisions, but I’m not naive enough to think it will be waved through unchanged.
I’m glad to have completed a version of the paper, and I’m fairly happy with my work. So far, I’m annoyed about only one aspect. As part of studying science communication, and from my own interests, I’ve read quite a bit about the failure points of academic writing — how it can be jargon-laden, hard to read, and artificially exclusive. I’ve read about how to make academic writing more lively and well-crafted, and how to make it better do its job of communicating. After diving into this new topic, I wanted to try out those new techniques and approaches. But in the end I stuck with the conventional approach, the passive, impersonal “view from nowhere”.
Thinking about this logically, I shouldn’t be too annoyed. The advice and techniques aren’t usually intended for people writing their first paper. They’re intended for established researchers. So right now I’m concentrating on the old quote about how you have to know the rules before you can break them. Trying to be unconventional on my first primary-author paper could have instead come across as me not knowing the rules at all.
In terms of writing, I sought to make the paper as friendly and readable as I could, within the conventional bounds. I tried to avoid overusing jargon; to choose effective words rather than longer, clunkier defaults; and to explain ideas so they would make sense to people outside of the area. The start of the paper did this part fairly well, and I’m happy with my introduction. So overall, I’m hopeful that it won’t need too much revising.