November 9th, 2020

By Priya Katyal

After months and months of performing arduous experiments and data analysis, the time finally comes when you turn a disorganized pile of results to something orderly and beautiful. You sort and group results and put together all your scientific discoveries, piece by piece. And after multiple writing sessions that includes writing, rewriting, revising and writing again (and again!!), you get a full draft of manuscript ready. As you read through the draft, you feel pretty darn proud of yourself. This is it, the time is now to submit the final version to your PI.

Your PI reviews the draft with a critical eye and sends you a collection of edits. As you go through the comments, you start to feel that:

“Oh, how did I miss this?, and that too”, “did I send the wrong version?”

You too realize that there were some key concepts that you thought you explained, only to find that important pieces of explanation were missing; in next round of edits you realize that you forgot to refer a critical article, next you observe examples of redundancy.  As weeks pass by, you come across new literature article that needs to be included in your manuscript. As you are going through multiple rounds of edits, you start creating new names for your doc. The nomenclature includes various adjectives, short phrases and even time of the day as you are continuously editing the draft. A personal favorite of mine was “2018mmdd_manuscript_430am_livingroom_coffee3_HereWeGoAgain”.  After endless rounds of edits, you finally chop off the jargon and replace it with “FINAL” and the manuscript is ready to be sent out to the journal. (Chances are you’re still only just beginning…)

[Picture credit: PHDCOMICS]


After weeks/months of waiting, you will receive reviewers’ feedback. If you are lucky your manuscript will be accepted ‘as is’ (congratulations, this is one of the biggest accomplishments and I suggest you immediately buy a lottery ticket!!!). However, most of the times the finish line is within your sight but still further away. You may feel writing/editing fatigue but soon you will realize that editing will rather raise the standard of your work. You persevere and make all of the revisions suggested-strengthening your own work. You go through few more rounds of edits with your colleagues/PI (perhaps at this point you would have developed a thick skin). You submit your FINAL, FINAL draft and hope for acceptance. When your manuscript is accepted, you will be very relieved and exhilarated. But wait, there’s more!

As you continuously refresh the google search of your name to see your manuscript online, you will realize that it is not over yet!! You still have to proofread!! This is one of the important steps as you read the ‘FINAL, FINAL, FINAL” version of your manuscript. While the reviewers seem to have pointed out everything, there are bound to be some minor typos that leak through. Once you submit your edits, no further changes are allowed to be made so you need to read absolutely EVERYTHING. And voilà, your work has been published- yay it’s party time!!

Writing and editing a paper can be extremely exhausting, however the sense of accomplishment and relief makes you come back for more. While I learn many things in the process of writing/publishing, the most useful assets I learned are patience, perseverance and persistence.