A tale of two pubs

Last week, I had two papers accepted for publication. The process for each illustrates the extremes tails of publishing in academia.

The first paper accepted is work that I basically started at the end of last summer (2014). It’s good work - I’m reasonably proud of it, but it is definitely preliminary stuff. You’ll not find any grand, sweeping claims about human behavior or any particularly impressive methodological advances. Regardless, we we submitted it to EDM in February, and received notification last Thursday - approximately 2 months between submission and notification.

In contrast, the second paper is work that I conducted as a Master’s student while still at SFSU. I graduated from that program in the spring of 2009, and I’m pretty sure that the work was complete by the end of 2008. It has been under review more-or-less continuously since that time and was accepted, finally, last week in the Journal of Mind and Behavior. I was proud of the work at the time - it was my first real attempt at running a full experiment, from the ground up. I was fortunate enough to have a great advisor in Ezequiel Morsella at SFSU to mentor me through the process. All the same, this is work I haven’t touched for over 5 years, and I’ve had a pretty dramatic shift in research interests since then, with an acute divergence in the last year or so. So yeah, I’m glad that it is published, but it’s a little absurd that it took this long.

I want to emphasize that I’m not blaming any individual for the delay in the latter case. It’s more just another illustration that there’s something amiss in the methods we use to communicate our work. Is either paper destined for greatness? Almost certainly not. However, there’s also no reason why either paper shouldn’t be made public so that others can learn and build from what we’ve done. Six years is a long time to wait for something that, in principle, could be done in a tenth of that time.

Written on April 10, 2015
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