Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Long Story

Last week, I finally submitted my paper to a journal for the first time. This paper was originally meant for TRB 2015 but, instead of putting it in the proceedings, my adviser convinced me to work more on it instead, which proved to be excellent advice because I was able to add some very important content to it. Now, the question is whether what I think is important is really important for the reviewers - and the only way to know that is to submit it!

The journal is pretty high-Impact Factor. I'm not a fan of the IF system and I have known many high IF journals that don't have much useful information in it (then again, usefulness is subjective). More problematically, it has led to journals insisting that authors cite works from that same journal in order to publish in it, which is simply wrong. Yet, in this perish-or-publish world of research, the IF remains a golden tool, albeit with some modifications that just give some statisticians a job to do. More importantly however, is the fact that many faculty recruitment boards specifically go into IF of journals that the candidate has published in and therefore, it is actually a matter of career. And, being a mere grad student, I really don't have the luxury of being able to pooh-pooh IF when my job depends on it. After tenure maybe, but not at this stage.

One thing I've learned from just the internal review is that any journals paper needs to meet very high standards, in terms of rigor and language. Conclusions must be based solely on results and not speculation, in contrast to conference papers, where some degree of speculation is acceptable to stoke interest in the participants. No wonder than that journal papers are harder to write, take longer to publish and involve multiple rounds of review, unlike conference papers.

At this stage, I thought I had put a ban on future conference papers (except TRB). But the truth is that when important organizations hold conferences, you need to respond to their calls, whether you like it or not. But then, really good, fundamental work, need not go there - simple summary works are fine, since nobody really follows anybody in research! Thus, even with three journal papers lined up to send out (with this one having been just the first), I already have two conference papers planned. Busy life ahead! 

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