Wendy Belcher for scientists

I submitted a manuscript for publication today (#feelingood).  I realize that submission is not the same thing as acceptance, but I am going to take a moment to rest and rejuvenate from my “giving 210%” and bask in the glory of one hunk off my plate (2 more to go!)

In preparing for this submission, I’ve been all about Wendy Belcher.  First a colleague turned me on to her book, How to Write Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks, because she is going through the workbook in her writing group.  I’ve been thinking about starting a scholarship support group at my institution this spring and this book might be the perfect way to kick it off.  I also stumbled upon this post by Dr. Belcher which I thought was pretty spot on.

So back to my thoughts for this post.  I was looking at Wendy’s website where she has PDFs of some of the worksheets from the book.  In thinking about the support group, I thought it would be beneficial to have everyone go through this book for real during the summer.  As I am about to come off academic leave (where did 8 months go?!), it seems incredibly ambitious to complete an article start to finish in 12 weeks (i.e. do all the experiments, analysis, and writing).  Then I realized that Belcher seems to be talking about taking an existent piece of writing and revising it for publication.  Oh okay.  But how could this work in the sciences?  In my own process it has taken YEARS to get to the point of publication, but I find it hard to believe that is how it has to be.  Can “1 paper a year” become my new mantra?  If so it would require serious discipline and organization so that for the 12 weeks of the summer I am moving towards publication.

What about you?  How do you organize yourself and your lab for maximum productivity?  What is your rate of publication and/or what do you think is reasonable to expect at a primarily undergraduate institution where teaching and service can gobble a research program alive?  Let us know in the comments!

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