The Saga of Academic Publication

You have your paper already to go to a journal. You’ve agonised over it for months and you think it’s finished and ready for publication. It is not. Not by a long way. Let me tell you a story of what actually goes on in the academic publication process…

On a rainy Sunday back in January 2013 I submitted a paper to a respectable journal in field that I had written with them in mind. I guess I fell into the trap of thinking having written my thesis it would be easy enough to use a couple of chapters as the basis of journal papers. At least I am not the only person who has succumbed to this temptation.

At the beginning of March I received 2 and a half sets of reviewers comments. The half related to the fact a reviewer said please see the comments in the attached document, an attachment which I never received. Unsure of the etiquette of how to respond to the situation I dealt with the comments I had received and highlighted that I could respond to the third reviewer if they sent me the comments. This was the first resubmission on the 7th April.

Another six weeks later I received comments from the 2 reviewers still in the game. They disagreed on whether the article should be published, see what to do from Pat Thomson here. Mainly because like the 3rd reviewers comments to me, my detailed response to their individual comments, sent as an attachment, had never made it to them.

From the comments it was clear they hadn’t received my response properly so I contacted the editorial office. They were very helpful and ensured it was a system glitch and the document would now be sent to the reviewers, however I still had to deal with their current comments.

Sure no problem, here comes revision 2. If I haven’t already been black listed by my reviewers then hopefully I’m getting closer to the end game, which brings us to the beginning of June. Eighteen weeks from the original submission and I am going around the loop again.

Almost 6 weeks later I got confirmation that my article had been accepted. Hooray! I’ve signed over the copyright and hopefully I’ll get the proof in two weeks time. I also have an estimated publication date too, over seven months on from my original submission.

The problem is that in today’s super-fast moving world the work I conducted over a year ago now is still not published. When this publication relates to technology this is dangerously slow as technology can move on before the paper is even published. I guess I’m lucky as I’m working in the industry directly related to my research so hopefully the people that need to know the findings are aware of them (in one company at least).

Another issue which disappoints me is the cost of Open Access publication. I’d love to make my article freely available and I do get to share it for free with a select 49 people but unfortunately I’m not in a position to spend nearly $3000 on enabling Open Access. It is a shame as hiding the research behind a pay wall is unlucky to get it used as much as it could. I will try to submit it (and my other articles) to the University open access site as well but if anyone would like a copy please do get in touch.


2 responses to “The Saga of Academic Publication

  1. Hi Nic. Sorry to hear about the glitches and delays at the journal’s end. I’d like to respond to your final paragraph, which leaves the false impression that publishing in a peer-reviewed OA journal always costs money and generally costs around $3k. The majority (70%) of peer-reviewed OA journals charge no publication fees at all, and for the minority that do, $3k is well above average. Moreover, there are ways to publish in a conventional (non-OA) peer-reviewed journal and still make your article OA. For details, see my handout on how to make your own work OA [ ].

    • Hi Peter,

      Sorry that wasn’t my intention and thank you for the link. I think the issue with this particular publication is that it wasn’t really open access, this was an add on option at the end hence the cost.


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