Articular Paths

I just got an email that my endlessly-revised journal article was accepted by Southeastern Archaeology! I was honestly despairing of ever publishing my master's thesis from ECU (written and defended waaaaay back in 2002), so much so that I've been referring to it as, "my never-to-be-published article on biodistance." Here's why.

Summer 2002. Immediately after graduating, I started revising the project for journal publication, which my committee strongly encouraged. But it was my first semester of teaching college, so revising was put on the back burner.

Fall 2002. Started a completely different PhD program at UNC. Biodistance was forgotten in favor of Rome and Latin.

Spring 2004. After a switch back to a PhD in anthropology, I finally got some time to talk to my former-and-current advisor and revised the article, which I sent to the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Winter 2004. About 8 months of waiting, and the article was rejected. Not "revise and resubmit," but outright rejected. Seems that, in spite of the editorial leadership at AJPA of one of my committee members, biodistance and nonmetric cranial traits were seen as passe. In retrospect, I was merely applying methods to what I considered to be an interesting research question rather than generating new methods of my own. But I was still pissed.

Fall 2005. Annoyed at the length of time it takes to get an article reviewed, I spent another 8 or so months turning the article around, and this time I was talked into sending it to American Antiquity, another highly-regarded journal in my field and very friendly to bioarchaeology papers. This did, however, involve taking into account all the previous reviewers' comments, addressing them, running some new stats, and rearranging and reformatting the headings and bibliography.

Summer 2006. So by this point, I'm half moved to New York and half staying in North Carolina for fall teaching. I got a rejection from American Antiquity, although it was a tentative revise-and-resubmit. That is, the reviewers weren't outright rejecting the article, but both wanted to see a load of changes and complete resubmission to them. In retrospect, I probably should have pursued this avenue, as it's a good journal. But I decided instead to revise and submit to a different journal.

January 2007. Before I headed off to Rome, I decided to take one final stab at this unpublished research that had been hanging over my head since 2002. I revised the article based on reviewers' comments from AJPA and AmAntiq, reformatted, and sent it off to Southeastern Archaeology, my last hope before sending it to a NC-specific journal.

May 2007. In surprisingly fast turnaround time, I got a letter from the editors of Southeastern Archaeology that I needed to revise and resubmit. Poop. One reviewer had some major issues with my work - issues that I wasn't willing to tackle for this article, issues that involved methodological problems that I didn't create and didn't know how to solve, issues that, were I a mathematician and statistician, I would write an article discussing. I really meant to work on the revisions while in Italy, but Roman skeletons and gelato were much more interesting.

January 2008. After getting back to the US and catching my breath before teaching forensic anthropology in the spring, I decided to give it another go. I badgered a statistician at Cortland, who agreed with me that the reviewer's comments weren't entirely valid, and I began revising the article and crafting an argument for why I didn't need to include a multidimensional scaling graph. Added some acknowledgments, had Patrick whip up a lovely map of coastal NC, and sent that sucker back to the editors.

July 8, 2008. Got an email from the editors saying the article had been accepted! Woo! I need to make a couple minor revisions (change the cluster graph to greyscale, e.g.), but it'll be printed in the Summer 2009 issue of Southeastern Archaeology.

So, that's the path of an article from conception to birth. Apparently academia is on a seven-year gestation cycle. Or maybe that's just me.


Unknown said…
Congratulations! =)
Chris Cameron said…
Congrats, but I really don't find this story very encouraging... At least I have a backlog of about three would-be articles. Maybe the law of averages will ensure one goes through on the first attempt.

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