Friday, July 4, 2014

Journey to my First Paper

Come July 1 and the much-delayed results of the 2014 International Symposium on Pavement LCA came out and, as my adviser had predicted, it was a thumbs up to my paper, with some minor revisions requested by the reviewers, thus marking my first successful conference publication since coming to the US from my graduate studies. Of course, this is not my first experience with writing papers, since I had submitted one in my final year of B.Tech. However, that does not count because I could not present my work and hence, it was not published in the proceedings. In this case however, if all goes well, I should be flying to Davis, CA in October to officially present my work.

What makes this paper special for me, apart from the fact that it is my first as a graduate student, is that it was borne of a topic that was, less than a year ago, completely alien to me and largely unknown within my research group. Although my adviser did have some knowledge in the area, it was my work that set a solid foundation in the group in the area. And of that, I am very proud. This is, of course, a more exploratory style of research that I have been conducting, enabled by a kind Fellowship that comes without unnecessary conditions, as opposed to what has become commonplace in graduate schools, where advisers have a set theory or research plan and the student simply has to execute it.

This paper, I admit, was very simple and was even aborted at one point of time when it seemed that there was something amiss with the results (this was rectified later and that is possibly the topic of another paper). It took four months and six reviews to write. I wish I could have done an external review of it before submitting it, but that would require better networking, which my participation in this conference enables. The blind reviews I did receive were encouraging, as the reviewers felt that the work was useful and provided insight into the study. One reviewer did seem less impressed though, although the scores were average even there. What made me happy was that all the reviewers were happy at the writing style and felt it was a well-written paper. From a long-term perspective, this paper was intended o tell the world a little about what I am working on and what to expect and seek feedback for the same.

Of course, this is just the first step (isn't every success the first step?). I now have to incorporate the reviewers' comments, proof-read the paper, ensure that everything I say is defended by data and then submit it. In addition, there is also the matter of paying the conference fee, booking a flight, shuttles and a hotel. All or most of this is, of course, reimbursed later by the department but there is a temporary financial burden on the student. Thankfully, I've saved up enough to get over that. I also need to check in to LinkdIn and start networking (finally!)... and there's much more to do that I can't even think of yet.

And the most exciting thing is that this is just a first - there will be many more and I look forward to them. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

COngratulations! Well done. :)

The pragmatic/practical/foresighted...whatever...fellow that you are, good that you prepared for the conference (the arrangements required). Hope to hear of it in October.

I didn't know research also had 'groups'---they almost sound like teams we have here. Team A focuses on infra, team b on chemicals...then, each person in that group end up doing just that.

Enjoy the next one coming up (August, isn't it? :))