Thursday, 3 February 2011

Copy editing.

After the third version of my proofs were returned by Phys.Rev. without serious mistakes being corrected, I resorted to begging.

The mistakes were not mine, let's get that out of the way. What was accepted by the journal was 3.5 pages of nicely formatted and carefully checked LaTeX. What came back was, surprisingly, 4.5 pages of space gobbling elvish script which, after a cursory examination, was revealed to contain entirely different equations to the ones I had submitted.

No really. My Dirac matrices had been re-ordered. "p" had become "q". Subscripts had changed from "2,3" to "1,2". All inexplicable.

These kind of changes can presumably be explained by how copy editing works, but I'm honestly not sure. I presumed at first that these chaps were using LaTeX, but this is perhaps not the case -- I suppose its more likely that they "import" the TeX file into some kind of grown up proper publishing program (read "poorly designed, bug ridden, memory hogging Mircrosoft trash") which produces proper grown up printable pages (read "a mess of grossly ugly type and mis-spaced equations"). This import won't be perfect and presumably some equations have to be reformatted by hand.

Fine. So why don't the lazy buggers check what they have changed? Why don't they have, wait for it, both files open at the same time, and then move their eyes between those files to check if they are the same? Why not do that, which is, presumably, let's see, their job, rather than just guessing what should go into the equations and then sending it back to me so that I can whittle a few more months off my life with the added stress of having to do someone else's fucking job?

The next time I'm sent such a bucket of shite I'm going to ask "aps beacon" to pay me fucking overtime.

It is disputational death to convey the impression of superiority these days. You can't claim that one job is better than another for fear of being accused of intellectual discrimination. So let's clear that up too: nowhere do I claim that typesetters have an easy job. I am certainly not claiming that I could do their job -- I couldn't, I don't have the patience or a careful enough eye. But if I did have to do their job for a month, I'd at least be concientious enough to check that I wasn't so fucking lazy as to have actually turned someone else's effort into TRIPE.

Feckless, apathetic morons.

Maybe there are other explanations. If it's not incompetence or apathy, then maybe it's some kind of bad juju dark magic.

In which case I want it, because I could use that to scupper my rivals. With that:

Blessed be the mighty god Zarnax, lord of copy editors, I give praise to his name and humbly request he bestow his splendiferous talents upon me, so that I too may off-handedly fuck around with the science which someone else has poured sweating, irreplacable hours of their sodding lives into.

(Ah, I have a PRD proof waiting for me.... this should be a hoot.)

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