My first paper
Back in June, I had submitted my first paper for publication. It was a literature review which forms the basis of my thesis, and seeing as I was still in the beginning of my PhD and had time to perfect it etc, I decided to aim high, and submitted to the top journal in my area. I knew that it would be hard to achieve, especially since reviews are commonly written by experienced academics, rather than a lowly PhD student, and many other students in my group had found it quite difficult to get theirs published. But Oh well, to the enthusiasm of a new student. We submitted and from day to day I waited for a reject email to come back.
Alas months passed by and no response was received from the journal. Then the day I went home for Christmas (i.e. 6 months after first submission), my supervisor emailed me saying she received a communication saying I got a major revision for the paper. I was quite disheartened, but after seeing the comments I got and talking to my sister, said that if they did not reject it outright they must think I have something right. So over Christmas, I spent time working on the changes requested, discussed them when I went back to Dublin 3 weeks later and submitted just before the deadline of 4 weeks.
Then just a few minutes ago I received an email from my supervisor, saying that the paper has now been accepted, and we now need to await the schedule for publication etc. I cannot believe how happy this has made me feel and I am glad that I aimed high. So this is my advice to anyone who is in the beginning of their PhD, from the first day start writing up something. From the first week I started, when my supervisor told me to ‘read papers about the area’, I starting putting together a document. It mainly consisted of copy and paste parts or summaries of the different articles, pasted in an incoherent manner under a couple of broad topics. I also started my referencing from the start, using RefWorks, as it is what is available on campus here. Once I had read a number of papers, I organised the copy and paste parts into more coherent sections and rewrote them into paragraphs. But since I already had a number of pages of quotes it was quite easy to achieve. Suddenly, I had a literature review of the different areas I was investigating. I collated the different sections and beefed up some areas and made the document flow.
A couple of drafts later, and it was ready for submission. My advice at this point, especially if you are still towards the start of your PhD, is to aim high. It is better to aim high, get rejected and submit to a slightly lower journal. And you keep getting comments that way which improves your manuscript and writing. Getting the major revisions just before Christmas is quite disheartening, but it is so worth it now.
Good luck with your writing 🙂