I’m finally starting to write the last big (relative definition please) paper of my PhD!! 🙂 I’ve run into a bit of a predicament though. 😦 So, for all of the other papers that I’ve been a part of over the last ~10 years there has been a clear first, second and third (yes, that’s right, third…this is what happens when you are crazy) choice for where to submit. My boss/adviser were part of the same research community that typically populate the kind of journals that my work was appropriate for. This was great; we could submit to the journals that 1) we were most familiar with, b) our friends were most familiar with and c) our type of work was most typically found. Three birds, one stone. Perfect.
Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple this time around. My adviser is a theorist whose work has spanned from inorganic polymer physics to biopolymers over the last 15 years, and is now moving down the even darker and scarier road of experimental synthetic and applied biology. Enter my project. We are very much at the interface of (micro)biology, food science and engineering — three fields that, at first glance, seem like quite the stretch to connect in one fell swoop. Hence the current question: where do we submit?
Do we submit to the journal that’s most appropriate for our subject matter? If we go here, no one will know us. People who have these publications included in their monthly journal email updates will not recognize our names or our department as they scroll through their announcement for the most recent issue. This unfortunately means that our chances of being read, much less cited, decrease dramatically. (The sad truth is that if people don’t know you, odds are stacked against them reading your work.) And at the same time, if we are to take this route, our friends will continue indulging in the periodicals that we all browse/read regularly, and they will miss our publication as well. Booohooohooo 😦
So then, do we submit to the journal that all of our friends are familiar with and regularly publishing in? If all of our friends jumped off of a cliff would we go jump too? (Obviously the answer to this question depends. Are the beautiful blue waters of Serifos below us? Are we wearing a parachute/hang-glider? Is there a rabid tiger chasing us?) Now if we do this (submit the paper among friends, not go cliff jumping…although really, how cool would that be?!?! Sans the tiger…) our friends will recognize our name and our department as they scroll though their email updates. They will probably click on our article with the expectation that they are opening a computational paper that integrates multiscale molecular dynamic simulations with stochastic modeling approaches. However, they will be greeted by a solution (based on experimental research) for curbing the emergence of antibiotic resistance. WTF?!?! Now they will probably still read the paper (we have nice friends AND curtailing this world health issue is pretty damn cool whether you’re in the field or not…in my humble opinion) but will they cite it? Why would they? It is SO outside of their field! And of course, the people who would be interested in this project are above in paragraph 3, unaware of anything that we have done.
So what do we do? Do we stick with our friends that we already know and love? Do we stick our necks and our work out there into the unknown? Regardless, this is a pretty clear wake up call that we do need to start making new friends (….but keep the old…one is silver and the other’s gold… Sorry.) as we move into different fields. Fine.
But, what do we do now?