Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What google can't give me: elucidating the manuscript review process

So its been a long lapse in blogging but honestly, I promise, I swear I've been meaning to do so for a while now. I even have a couple blog-goals (blogoals?). One is to put up a link for a YouTube library of sed-o-liscious videos. They can be INVALUABLE in teaching, but take time to track down. Check out one of my favorites for demonstrating thixotropic behavior. I love it! I also have an incredibly hilarious/geeky one for fluidized sediment to the soundtrack of Forrest Gump's Theme Song (to which we're partial in the South). I'll save that for another time. Anyways, I figure if I searched for 'em, others must have too, so why not save someone some trouble someday. I also want to do one for Intro Geo, but there isn't as much surprisingly except for mass-wasting and other natural hazards.

What I'm here to do now, though, is to lament that despite the push to publish, we don't always get the review criteria for every journal before we submit. What exactly will the critique entail? Well, submitting is one way to find out! Once I've reviewed more papers I may find that the actual check list is meaningless. But right now all I can ask is "Is it meaningless? If not, what does it mean? Heck, what IS the review process for a specific journal?" Some have them available on line, but not all. In particular I've struck out with Journal of Sedimentary Research but found it available on Sedimentology. It just got me thinking about the review process and its subjective nature and how it might be good to give yourself a pre-review if you knew what the criteria were. Or maybe it wouldn't be good and would just be a waste of time. Or maybe it would be good but wouldn't make the difference b/w accepted and rejected.

Mostly I was thinking of this in terms of how to teach my students to write for a critical audience (me). I find they want details of what I want so they can tailor their paper to the criteria. But in the "real world" of academia (ok, I can hear the guffaws from here :) or industry for that matter, we don't often get such a detailed request. In the end, I guess what enhances learning isn't the way things are done in the "real world". So what should I teach? "Real world" or "learner-centered classroom" modus operandi? For now I think I'll try to do a little of both.


Chuck said...

I'm currently waiting for something to go from "In Press" to "published." Then I'll have something to say.

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