Wednesday, 21 December 2011


I posted a casual note on Facebook today, saying that an article had been accepted for publication. Within an hour, I had over twenty "likes". I am not sure how to interpret it. Had friends given up hope that I would ever be accepted? (No, I think they were sincerely enthusiastic).

I have several times written in this blog about being rejected and about other obstacles and disappointments in an academic career, so I will for once write about the joy of being accepted. You may think that after thirty plus years another accepted article would not matter that much, but it does. Anyway, this article does. Some articles matter more than other articles.

These days I mostly write on request, and book chapters rather than articles. It has happened to me that an article or chapter written on request got rejected, but it doesn't happen often because after all if they asked you they probably want your contribution. So it isn't a big surprise to have your work accepted, it's just a matter of doing it on time and to the best of your abilities, and being prepared to make some revisions, particularly if the editor is good. There is no article so perfect that it cannot be improved by advice from a good editor. A good editor is a blessing. A bad editor is a nightmare... err, I was going to be positive today.

When you are asked to contribute to a volume or a journal it is likely within your area of expertise. You are asked because the editor knows your work and wants you to do more of the same. It is flattering, but not necessarily challenging. I don't blame editors: they know what I have published, but not what I am currently doing secretly at my writing desk. Oftentimes I offer to write something slightly different, something looking forward rather than backward. Frequently I do a conference paper which I then revise for publication. But it does happen that you are invited to write something unexpected which makes you wonder: Why me? Can I really do it? How exciting!

I am enthusiastic about the accepted article because it matters a lot. Frankly, I don't remember when an article mattered that much, except for the first dozen or so, which all mattered a lot. This article matters because it is a new territory for me. Because I am not sure whether I am doing the right thing. Now I know that I am. It's very good for self-esteem that after thirty plus years I can come up with something new that at least two colleagues who don't know who the author is think worth publishing.

The bottom line is that no matter how many articles you have published there will always be this special one that makes you feel proud.

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