Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Accepted, but...

We have set ourselves a difficult task. Some months ago, my friends and I submitted a review article, clarifying some common (within the scientific literature) misconceptions, to a very good anthropology journal. Today we heard back from them. The editor explained that it took longer than usual because he had sent it out to "several" reviewers, and then "several more" and was waiting to get comments from all of them.

The good news is that all the reviewers seemed to like it, and the editor knows which issue of the journal he wants to put it in, which we take as the paper being accepted. The bad news (or at least time-consuming news) is that all of the several and several reviewers made long lists of things they would like to see changed, added, clarified or reorganized. I have not yet finished reading all these comments, but I don't see a lot of repetition, meaning that we have hundreds of distinct comments and criticisms to deal with. In the months we were waiting, we also showed the draft to a couple of colleagues, who gave us still different but also very useful comments. The good news is that the editor has given us permission to go well beyond the usual page limit for this journal in order to deal with all the reviewer comments. The bad news is that we now can't use space limitations as an excuse for not dealing with relevant points or citing relevant literature. So we have a great deal of rewriting to do.

Part of the problem with writing an article pointing out places where other people's thinking or language has been unclear is that one has to live up to very high standards for clarity in one's thinking and language. We've already extensively rewritten this paper a few times, and each time it has gotten clearer. Nevertheless, a large portion of the reviewers' comments are right on, and further clarification is needed. By the time this thing comes out it will either be brilliant or a total muddle. I'm not clear which.

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