For you non-science folk, there are two key kinds of currency in our field: publications and grants. Those two things make you marketable for jobs. And while publications in general are important, first-author publications are gold. When you are first author, you have done a majority of the work and have written the bulk of the manuscript. The research is your baby. I have various publications already, going back to my DC job, but this is the first one in which I am lead author, so it's really, really exciting. But obviously I couldn't have done this project without the help of my co-authors and other people who have helped me along the way.
So, what happens now? In general, it takes a few months for you to hear back from the journal. There could be a few outcomes:
- The manuscript is accepted as-is (not going to happen) for publication
- The manuscript is rejected outright by the journal's EIC for some reason like it doesn't fit the scope of the journal (hopefully won't happen)
- The manuscript goes into the review process in which experts in the field (we suggested reviewers) decide if your manuscript is publication-worthy for this journal. That's the 'peer-review process' you hear about in the media. From there, the manuscript could either be accepted with revisions or rejected. If it's accepted, you go back and follow their instructions, whether it be minor edits, major revisions, or even additional experiments. If it's rejected, you resubmit to another journal (reformatting everything including references, tables, figures, etc.) and repeat the whole process.
You can see why it sometimes takes years for a manuscript to be published. But having just this first step completed makes me feel awesome. Just one item crossed off my list, not that it's necessarily crossed off because there will be either edits or resubmission, but progress nonetheless. I should also be finishing data collection for the first chapter of my dissertation today, which means that the whole writing process starts up again for that study. Hooray for progress. Finally. And since I won't pass up the opportunity to show pictures of myself with wolves, here I am again in Minnesota with a wolf. It's relevant since the manuscript was about wolves and I hate to publish without a picture.