I don't think it's a secret that I've been struggling this (academic) year. Things haven't been great, and that's been really affecting me in ways I was not quite ready for. One of the things that's happened is that I have two important things that need revisions completed on ASAP that I haven't been working on. My career feels like it's stalled. My book needs to be done, like, now. The article revisions are now overdue (though I am not holding up other people's work, it's for a general-submission journal). So that's what I'm trying to do. To remember to be in love with my research. I do love it, I just have to get though the panic attack to realise that.
I am currently working on the revisions for my book and for an article, so I wanted to write down a few things about how I tackle revisions. It's probably one of the most important things that we do as researchers, and something that is a constant in the lives of academics from the undergraduate thesis onwards. How we get revisions changes, though, from the revisions that we get from supervisors who are (hopefully, generally) supportive and want to work with us to make sure our work is the best it can be. Peer reviewers ostensibly want the same things, but that doesn't always happen (I've commented multiple times on Twitter about the review I got that included the ego-boosting phrase "You know nothing about Greek religion"). I've also commented on giving peer reviews before, which I don't want to do here. I want to think about what I do when I get a review.
I think the first thing is to read though the reviews. I find this incredibly difficult, but it has to be done. Go to a nice place - maybe a cozy pub or café you love, somewhere you feel good. When I read though the reviews I have my laptop or a notebook and for each point I write it down in my own words, as I understand it, in one of two columns: 'things to do' and 'things not to do'. It's okay to decide not to act on a comment you receive, but you will need to keep a record of these so you can write down the reasons why in your letter back to the editor. If you are going to submit elsewhere I think it's still a good idea to keep a track of things you don't want to act on, because these are things that may come up in another review. Anything that's just nasty (see the above comment that I received...) or off the mark, or just plain unconstructive, feel free to ignore.
When you start your revisions do so from the list of things to do that you made, with each point written in your own words. I personally find this way less stressful that having to go back to the reviewers comments again and again, particularly if they were framed in a non-constructive or mean way. In some ways this becomes just like working though your own editing.
That's where I am right now with my article. With my list of things to do, written in my own words and ploughing though them as quickly and thoroughly as I can. I'm currently flip-flopping back and forward between the book and the article, not sure which is more important to get finished. I think the article, as it will be a quicker process. Answers on a postcard, please!
I'd love to hear your strategies for dealing with peer reviews! Let me know below!
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