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after the dissertation defense

Patricia S. Bowne pbowne at omnifest.uwm.edu
Fri Feb 28 00:11:25 EST 1997

Vanessa Artman wrote:

"2.)  How does one prepare for the outside world of reviewers after your
dissertation defense?  It's possible that committee members are less
critical of your science than reviewers in the outside world.  These
reviewers could be encountered during manuscript reviews or job interviews,
such that their criticisms could invalidate your science when everything
seemed fine with the old committee members.  Any suggestions on how to
prepare for these situations?  Other than to hope that you have really good
critical committee members who look for the worst in your science?

Having been in this situation, I say the way to prepare for very critical
outside reviewers is to thank your stars for them. They find mistakes you
would have missed, and save you from going into print with bad research
that could damage your reputation. I once got 18 pages of critical comments
on a book chapter. The reviewer had even gotten specimens of the species I
was describing and checked my data. I could never have had a friend who
would go to that much work to safeguard my reputation!

Also, I would say don't fall in love with your research to the point that
bad reviews will crush you. (As if anybody loves their dissertation! ;-) )
The best compliment I ever received was from
an editor who said he didn't have to soft-pedal criticisms for me because
I was 'thick-skinned'. Your ego shouldn't be too deeply involved in 
anything you're sending out for publication; you should be too interested
in the next project!

My third point is not to accept all bad reviews - try different publications.
I once had an article rejected and was told to put half of it into a note
for the journal, because half the data were unsuitable for publication -
but after I'd done so, I saw an almost identical study published in its
entirety in a different journal. Don't give up on your paper just because
it gets rejected from one place! After all, a paper isn't good for anything
else except sending out to journals.

Good luck

Pat Bowne

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