For most fledgling academics, these are frightening words to hear from a dissertation adviser, departmental colleague, and *especially* a chair. However, until we secure the ever-elusive tenure-track position, we will continually push that Sisyphean boulder of research expectations up an increasingly steeper and narrower slope. Most of us are passionate about our research and believe it can make a difference in our respective fields. Yet, it seems that no matter what we do, our efforts are thwarted by countless rejection letters (to the point that even a revise and resubmit feels like an immense victory). This can be very psychologically damaging, causing us to blame ourselves for our shortcomings (e.g. “I’m not cut out for this”, “I’m a failure”, etc.). However, believe it or not, there is a bright side (although it can be as hard to see as the dark side of the moon at times)! Most negative feedback we receive has less to do with us being capable and intelligent researchers (so cheer up!), per se, and more to do with aspects WITHIN OUR CONTROL!
The first, and most common complaint, is that our individual writing styles are simply not sophisticated enough for an academic journal. For example, some academics write in absolutely beautiful academic prose, yet cannot string together a series of coherent or interesting ideas that are otherwise worth publishing. Instead they heavily cite previous research in an attempt to create the appearance of sophistication. In graduate school, we used to disparagingly refer to such writing as the “holy matrimony of bullshit and plagiarism,” to be frank. Sadly, however, you can often find such articles being accepted for publication on purely language and formatting alone (with perhaps some tinkering of the initial hypothesis). Then there are other scholars who struggle greatly with the written form but have their brilliant ideas thwarted by an incapacity to adhere to formal representation. I’ve often thought of research that I am passionate about like lightning in a bottle — incredibly challenging to harness! We can think of ourselves as Picassos without paintbrushes (it feels good to compare yourself to Picasso, doesn’t it?). Here is where the genius of the Peerwith platform truly shines. Your ideas, formulated on paper with your best effort, are then given an “academic makeover”, as it were, ensuring that in the end, the only thing standing between you and publication is how well thought-out and formulated your own scientific contribution is. You, as the researcher, can stand aside, alleviating the additional stress that accompanies adhering to journal style guidelines, and FOCUS ON IMPROVING YOUR IDEAS. I have helped countless scholars publish their research by providing the tools necessary to give formal representation to their ideas. Moreover, clients can be rest assured that I also use the “sharpest” tools, as I have extensive background in publishing my own research and editing massive academic volumes. This provides clients the initial relief that their “babies” are in good hands. OK, now that I have metaphored you to death, let’s move on to complaint #2: “sexiness of topic”.
While our ideas may be found interesting and insightful by a journal’s reviewers, sometimes they may not be “sexy” enough (yes, this is how reviewers often talk in their letters about our research). We must keep in mind that priority areas of research in our fields are constantly in flux and often has nothing to do with academia itself (e.g. involving changes in national policies, industry standards, etc.). Sometimes these things can happen overnight, which is a terrible trick to play on someone writing a dissertation! For example, when I began my PhD at The Ohio State University (in 2004), the US’s top Slavic Departments all had linguistics programs. However, when I completed my PhD (in 2011), I could count that number on one hand, sadly. This meant simply one thing: less departments were interested in hiring candidates with my academic background. While I still fight this battle yearly with endless post-doctoral, job, and grant applications, I make it of utmost importance to submit at least two articles for review each year (as well as continuing to attend academic conferences). Therefore, even though, the full-time academic gig still evades me (again, a project of changing priorities in my field), I can show that I am an active researcher with major recent achievements. This is the kind of perspective I offer my clients on the Peerwith platform, including: honesty, appreciation of their scientific contribution, approaching my work in earnest, and a rigorous adherence to publication standards for language, style, and formatting. I also offer copious comments regarding coherency of ideas, concepts, and overall thesis.
This brings us back to my opening remarks about the precarious nature of academia. We simply cannot progress in our careers without demonstrating our expertise to the world in written form. Therefore, with absolute commiseration with my fellow Picassos, I offer my paintbrush in hopes that we can obliterate the god-awful reminder to “publish or perish” from our collective memories. Let us thrive as an academic community together, with each party bringing a certain set of skills to the table to create a publishable scientific contribution.
I look forward to many fruitful collaborations and friendships!
Connect to Expert Josh Pennington directly: https://peerwith.expert/joshpennington