The long road to publication

My paper WRF model study of the Great Plains low-level jet: effects of grid spacing and boundary layer parameterization has finally been sent for early online release as part of the AMS Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology! I’m pretty excited to finally have this work out there, and I needed to be able to cite it in a new paper I just submitted.

Getting this paper published was quite the process. I completed most of the work included in it while out in the field for the PECAN campaign in July 2015. I finally got it written up and submitted two years later in July 2017. It’s been going through the review process for over a year! I know most people don’t care about the details, but some other sad young scientist might come across this. Details about the process and the five (5!) submissions of this paper are recounted below!

First submission: July – Sept 2017, rejected. 🙁
This was my first rejection, and it was difficult to process. It took me more than a couple read throughs of the editor and reviewer comments to get over the sad and angry feelings and actually take in the constructive criticism. However, some of the reviewer comments were less than constructive… enter an entire discussion about single blind review here. I am very thankful to have such supportive co-authors that helped me through this process and reminded me that I wasn’t an absolute failure at science. After I responded to the constructive comments, my co-authors drafted a letter to the editor pointing out some of the less constructive comments and requesting a fair review of the new version.

Second submission: December 2017 – February 2018, major revision.
After the editor reviewed our letter, the paper was assigned to all new reviewers. The comments in this round were constructive, but required a substantial amount of work to satisfy reviewer requests. More than 50 new simulations and more robust statistical analysis were included after this revision.

Third submission: April – June 2018, major revision.
Now this started to get old. You know when you say a word so many times it stops sounding like a word… that’s how this felt. Frustrating to say the least. Begrudgingly I had to accept that these comments were helpful. I performed some extra simulations and identified some new sensitivities based on reviewer comments.

Fourth submission: June – July 2018, major revision.
I was mad. Just straight up mad. At this point one of the reviewers had chosen not send back comments because he/she thought the paper was ready to go, but the other two reviewers and editor did not agree. So again we went through the process of responding to comments. In this round most edits were minor and responses were focused on defending our stance on the paper. This was really testing my confidence as a scientist, but my co-authors and other colleagues really stepped up and supported me. I submitted this paper for a fifth time more than a year after the process started.

Fifth submission: August 2018, accepted! 🙂
Finally! Our responses and edits were well received by the editor and remaining reviewers! The paper should come out soon!

I guess the moral of the story is don’t give up, and speak up when something is actually unfair. Happy writing!