22 Mar 2012


“I shall not alter a single word. I shall publish the work exactly as it is!”

As I glanced through the four-page comments by my reviewers, how much I hoped I could just return these two sentences! But no. I first wrote a note of thanks to the reviewers, and then prepared a list of point-by-point response. Along the line, the manuscript was modified bit by bit, until it was no longer the same.

Unlike Tchaikovsky, I am not the one who decides to publish. Currently, scientific journals are run largely according to the peer-review system. Manuscripts are sent to other researchers with similar interests for review. Many reviewers are helpful and suggest ways to improve the presentation. Others, however, write comments only because it does not look good to admit that they have nothing to add. Do more experiments. Redo the whole work using another animal model. While it is an easy comment that can be applied to all research works, the time and resource it implies are tremendous. This also delays dissemination of scientific findings.

Only once in my life was my manuscript accepted directly without any revision. My mentor described that as a modern miracle.

Tchaikovsky also received much criticism when his Piano Concerto No. 1 and Violin Concerto were first played at concert. Vulgar, unmusical, showing off technique like in a circus, you name it. Nutcracker was too symphonic for ballet. Maybe they were correct. It goes without saying, however, that these masterpieces continued to be played 130 years later. On the other hand, hardly anyone remembers who the critics were.

For this reason, I am more interested in producing good works than publishing angry letters criticizing other people.

No comments:

Post a Comment