Sunday, 31 July 2011

The year so far.

Project 1. Resulted in a paper due to having a decent student who could do the numerical stuff I neither have any stomach for nor am any good at. Have been waiting for journal's decision for three months. In limbo.

Project 2. Began with literature check. Discovered it was done in the sixties. Aborted.

Project 3. Spent several weeks struggling with an extremely simple toy model. Finally understood it all. Extenstion to interesting cases immediate. Cool. Pause. Discovered an uncited paper in a back-water journal which contained most of my "new" results. Now have to find a way to salvage my time. ARGHH.

Project 4. Boring. Will be very hard to sell. Hoping collaborators will think of a way to spin it. Waiting for collaborators. Who are on holiday...

Project 5. Missing entirely. Needed for a masters student. Help.

Project 6. Impossibly difficult. All simple cases, already in the literature, abosrbed, digested and understood. Very, very, stuck.

Project 7. Initiated by collaborator's suggestions. Spent some time elaborating on suggestions and creating lists of positive and negatives of each. Returned to collaborator. Collaborator had decided it was no longer interesting. RAGE.

Project 8. Theory done. Numerics to be done. Project on hold because numerical collaborator is entirely distracted by own research and....

Prject 9. ... which is rather more interesting, but somewhat harder, than project 8. Have reduced problem to one extremely tough differential equation. Buggered.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Dear Professor. I am not an idiot.

Hmm. I come across a reference to an intriguing looking paper. I cannot find this paper online. A spires search reveals nothing. A lot of googling reveals nothing. It appears to be an unpublished preprint. No-one references the paper except the author, in another unpublished preprint which does happen to be on the webnets.

I e-mail the author and politely request of the elusive missive. The author is a bigshot, so I try to be extra polite and sickeningly flattering.

"Dear bigshot,

You are superawesome. I am frankly gasping to get my hands on a copy of your undoubtedly brilliant opus "clever shit I did on holiday", which sadly I have been unable to obtain. I cannot find a journal reference nor an online copy. Would you please be super sweet and send me a copy, you great big hunk of lovely, you?

Yours with best wishes and huggles,

Lowely postdoc who worships the ground your sweet smelling footsies dain to walk upon."

And a couple of days later I get this reply:

"try looking on spires"

What. Do. You. Think. I. Tried. First. You. Sod.

Now the bigshot thinks I am a blethering idiot. Excellent self publicity there. On top of that, I still don't have the paper I want, and am faced with the prospect of writing back to said bigshot without using any of the following words or phrases:

"no, really"
"a bit of effort"
"porpoise up your sodding"

The summer lull.

This is currently the status of my paper.

29Jun11 Review request to referee; response not yet received
07Jun11 27Jun11 Review request to referee; message received
(not a report)
26May11 26Jun11 Review request to referee; report received
21Jun11 Reminder to referee
8Jun11 Reminder to referee
25May11 28May11 Review request to referee; message received
(not a report)
26May11 Correspondence (miscellaneous) sent to author
26May11 Right to publish signature received
25May11 Correspondence (miscellaneous) sent to author
18May11 Acknowledgment sent to author
18May11 Correspondence (miscellaneous) sent to author

So, the paper is recieved by the editor and a week is sent out to two reviewers. This means the editor didn't bother with the paper for a week. (It's not that he didn't think it was suitable -- that decision would have been a lot quicker in coming.) One referee replies almost immediately -- either he's too busy or it's not his subject. The remaining referee does nothing. For a month. Then he sends a report. Yey!

Sadly, this report does not say "publish now, you fools, before he sends it to a journal with less infuriating response times!" but perhaps, and I hope here for the best option, "it's fine but not good enough for this journal", which I'm expecting. Worst case, it's "this is western rot which was covered in my magnificent soviet article in acta physica incomprehensiba, 1822".

Anyhoo. After three weeks, this third reviewer says he can't be arsed either. Three weeks to say "too busy, sorry". The paper is sent to a fourth reviewer. A fourth!! At least I'm getting some exposure.

I suspect the reason for this widening chasm between submission and rejection is that everyone has buggered off on holiday over the summer. I know I have. I'm on holiday right now. And I've still found time to write a paper. Why can't these buggers find the time to review one?