What does it feel like to be published for the first time?

Yesterday, I found out that the paper that I am a co-author on has been accepted for publication. This is my reflection on what it is like to be published in the world of academia.

Sent to production‘. Those were the words that signified the paper we had submitted had was accepted. As someone who has not experienced this before, I was very underwhelmed by the phrasing.

‘Your contribution to science, and therefore, humanity has been moved to the production line where, in an increasingly automated and mass-produced world, it will be packaged in a format that will extract maximum value from the consumer’.

Is there anything we humans can’t turn into a commodity?

I am still one of those naive, ‘young’, ‘scientists’ who is bewildered by the world of scientific publishing. Why are we putting a pay-wall between the results, that took considerable financial resources to obtain, and the consumer, who may get value from it?

I sense that in the near future everything will be open and available for all, not only because it is the right thing to do and the technology exists for it to be possible, but because open access articles get three times more views.

Does it feel good to be published?

In this case, it feels relatively neutral. Here is why.

Firstly, the paper was rejected from the first journal to which it was submitted. From following academics on Twitter over the past few years, this did not surprise me. It was reviewed by a couple of ‘peers’ at a particular journal. We, the symbolic ‘we’, changed a couple of things and submitted it to a different journal and were again judged by some ‘peers’ and it was accepted.

So, it does feel somewhat random as to whether or not you get published. I have developed an attitude that likens peer review and publishing process to that of the weather.

Being annoyed that your paper has not been accepted is a bit like being annoyed at the weather for raining on you and feeling as if the weather had decided to single you out. I am rather even-handed about the whole thing – if it gets published, fine, if not, also fine.

Secondly, I did not write the paper. Although I did an equal share of the work, I did none of the writing, and as a consequence, I do not feel that connected to it. Furthermore, the work was completed in 2018 and subsequently has not occupied my mind for quite a while. It is ‘nice’ to see that the work has reached its logical conclusion, but at the time of doing the work, I did not care about publishing I just liked the idea of doing something I had never done before. So now that is has been ‘approved for production,’ the feeling is relatively neutral.

Thirdly, the work was not directly related to my PhD; it was more of a side project. Because of this, I am not sure that it will go in my thesis and therefore may not help me in obtaining a PhD. Although, I will try my hardest to shoe-horn it in and use it. As, technically, I am a published author, and that shows that I have done something of merit. I would be ecstatic if this paper meant that the PhD is ‘in the bag’, but that is not the same as being happy about being published.

I cannot yet link the paper as it has only just entered production, but when it rolls off the production line and enters the showroom, I will be sure to attach it here.

I have since learnt that ‘production’ is where it gets edited and formatted in the particular style of the journal, which makes sense I suppose.

I wonder if writers of fiction get the same notifications from publishers.

‘Thanks, Mrs Rowling your submission ‘Harry Potter and the ….’ has been moved to production and the product will be within all major retail outlets by the next holiday period’.

Before writing this, I thought it would be relatively rare to publish a paper, but according to this article , there is more than 20 million of us in history. Also, with literally millions of papers being published each year, and many more left in draws and filing cabinets, it is not that interesting.

So, how does it feel to be a published author?

For me, it feels okay.