The milestone that most young ambitious scientists look forward to is the submission and acceptance of their first scientific paper. It is as easy as writing your piece, picking a journal, clicking submit and doing a happy dance, isn’t it?
Not in my experience.
In my third year of my undergrad I started writing a paper for a project called Shark Search Indo-Pacific as a special topic. When I was offered this opportunity by supervisor Dr Andrew Chin I knew this was one that I couldn’t pass up. As this project collaborates with in country partners, I was able to gain experience in not only writing scientifically but also communicating with other established scientists in the field I am very much interested in.
After two years of submitting this paper for a grade, bouncing this paper back and forth between three of us getting it ready for submission, it was finally ready. I was rereading all the journal’s requirements from authors three times over to make sure I was not THAT author that did not pay attention. Reading what the journal is looking for in a paper is important as I found there were many differences from what the university was looking for and what the journal wanted in terms of layout. However, it was easy to follow what the journal wanted.
After uploading the paper, the journal converts it to a pdf for the author to review and make sure everything uploaded properly. Well, it all went smoothly until this step. My paper was not converting properly! Two years of getting this paper ready for this very moment and all I feel is panic! So, I delete and upload again, nothing happened except more panic as I had the same problem. I try again, same result! In my moment of what I thought I should be feeling proud, all I feel is panic! So, I call my supervisor… However, we were on opposite sides of the world and in the chaos, I did not calculate for the time difference.
I was advised to upload the paper anyway while he reached out to contacts he has from the journal. I get an email from the contacts telling me I am one of the very few authors to have problems uploading and to buy a lottery ticket. Lucky is not the word I would have used to describe the way I was feeling as time and time again the paper was not converting properly. However, I proceeded to upload anyway knowing that I was going to be that author I was afraid to be. The weight that lifted off my shoulders once I hit ‘submit’ was short lived.
The same day that I celebrated with a happy dance; I quickly received a rejection email. Two years of effort to be rejected in less then 24 hours… incredible. In the email they stated it was unsubmitted because the document did not upload properly.
After playing around with the paper I FINALLY got it to a place where everything uploaded with no problems. Once again, I clicked submit and did a happy dance in the kitchen knowing this time it submitted properly. It has been two months and I keep checking the status of my paper which is now in review. However, I wait, I wait, and I wait.
All in all, it was a crazy experience submitting my first publication. My number one piece of advice would be to make sure your number lines along side your paper is in numerical order. This is what I eventually found to be the problem, I had numbers missing and therefore I had “hidden” paragraphs that I couldn’t even see.
Would I do it again? Absolutely, and I look forward to it.
Contributed by Katelyn Hari