Anticappointment: the ride that is academic publishing

There is such a thing as anticappointment and I was unaware of it for 28 years of my life, seems insane to me. It is an all-encompassing feeling of waiting/ anticipating something with full knowledge that it will just be disappointing because nothing ever does meet your expectations.
A few common examples include:

  • A big New Year’s Eve celebration
  • Dream jobs
  • First dates
  • Camping trips
  • “Getting drunk till we pass out” plans
  • First research paper [Maybe this one is for a niche audience]

As I have mentioned in multiple posts, I am in my third year of graduate school, trying to get a PhD. The best part of it is getting paid to think and create. But the worst part is to write and show your ‘workings’…like high school exams. This means publishing your results through peer review process. Of course, there are a million debates online on the merits and demerits of the review process…but this blog is about the journey of my first paper and it’s all from a personal
experience because it just felt so scary throughout the process to put myself out there. First, I had to deal with being comfortable showing my work to my supervisors, then present it to my department colleagues for an “honest” opinion, then get real advice from friends and helpful post docs, then present partial results at various conferences, then start the actual journal stuff.

My paper’s journey started in July 2019, when I started writing it. I didn’t know anything about the process but refused to take help because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Eventually, arrogance gave way to desperation, and I got the right guidance about the writing procedure. Finally, I submitted it to journal 1 in December 2019, which
rejected it in three days because it was “out of scope” of the journal. I don’t think it was but there I was. Dejected. Then came journal 2. Same thing. More dejection. Then came journal 3, which my supervisors wanted me to use all along. It went to the journal few nights before the Christmas break so I had a happy (read: stressful) holiday. For two months, it was passed around in the system, and finally, on the basis of one reviewers comments it was rejected. Horrible and unjustified procedure. Single review is not enough! I have already written about that part in an earlier post.

After frantic and humongous revisions, I managed to resubmit the paper in May 2020. It went to the journal 4 and was promptly rejected due to being “out of scope”, which again it wasn’t. But I was not going to get dejected this time. I just submitted it to journal 5, and its a sign of personal growth that the change in status from “with Editor” to “under review” led me to have a full blown celebration (it wasn’t out of scope this time). Since June 2020, I had started working on the second manuscript, and analysing data for that one had sort of helped me get through the whole waiting process. However, since July 15th, I had been nervously twitching and fighting with my partner, and dealing with nerves because the status changed to “reviews completed.”

Now I am assuming that they knowingly decided to spoil a Sunday, which is why, I got an email with the decision today. The email was very long but thankfully, the editor put it in the first paragraph that they thought my paper was interesting albeit simplistic and needed major revisions before getting published. I didn’t realise if it was a good news or bad so the first thing I did was to take a screen shot of the email and sent it to three people who know what it’s like to publish a paper. The second thing was calling my boyfriend and crying…he never stops getting amused with my ability to cry on both happy and sad occasions. After 30 minutes of conversation and reassurance that it was indeed a happy news, came the inevitable disappointment that follows a highly anticipated event. The anticipation of being a published
researcher was hugely weighing on me, so obviously, the disappointment that the world (outside of your family/ friends) doesn’t really care too much about my achievements, was crushing. Its like coming down from an adrenaline rush. It feels unrealistic.
For the first two hours, I thought of nothing except what needs to be done now. My friend and fellow doctoral student, my father went through the comments and helped me plan a strategy, and my boyfriend reassured me that it’s a good thing to not be on cloud nine till the paper is unequivocally accepted.

In the grand scheme of things, the universe is right, my achievements don’t really matter because let’s face it, I was not going to save the world with my work. But it feels good to be a published researcher and to that end, I think I will try my best to revise and submit it. I hope this disappointment goes away and I can get ready for the next round of anticappointment….

Published by anubhutib

Graduate student in Finland navigating through PhD and trying to have some fun along the way.

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