My first journal paper & academic writing

In October I submitted my first paper to a 3D printing journal. This is the first paper in which I was able to plan experiments, carry these experiments out and write about my findings. I had previously been involved with a paper as part of my masters project, but I did very little work on my own for this. I was constantly under supervision in the lab due to UL’s rules in relation to taught masters students. This time I was working as a PhD student and was allowed to work independently. If/when this paper gets published I will summarise the results in a blog post of its own. As it is still not guaranteed to be published I cannot go into the specific details yet.

At the start of January we received an email from the editor of the journal to say that major revisions were required for the paper before they could consider it for publication. We were invited to make changes as suggested by their reviewers and re-submit our manuscript. Most of the requests were asking for more data to support what we were saying. And in most cases, these images/graphs already existed and just needed to be dug out and cleaned up before being added to the paper.

The deadline for returning the revised paper was last week and this was definitely one of my busiest week since starting the PhD. My ordinary work schedule is usually from 9am to 4-6pm, depending on my work load that day. I usually don’t do any more work in the evenings or weekends unless I have a presentation or an important deadline. However, the last two weeks have been hectic trying to get the paper finished on time. I worked all of last weekend which was the first weekend that I have worked since starting the PhD (last March). I also worked longer hours during the week to get the paper finished. Even though last week was a tough week, it is satisfying to finally send off the updated and definitely improved paper. Hopefully it will be accepted!

I have definitely noticed that a lot of the corrections from my supervisors are relating to how I am phrasing sentences rather than the content of that sentence. Apart from a handful of lab reports, the undergraduate final year project and the masters project, I have not done any other scientific writing. I have decided to take an academic writing module this semester as I feel that I need practice in this area. I have already missed two weeks of this but the lecturer has allowed me to register anyway and catch up with material in my own time.

This module only has one compulsory hour per week, along with two online lectures. In addition to this, I am taking a module called ‘Immunology & Microbiology’ and I am teaching tutorials for a third module. Even though I am involved with three modules this semester, I have been very lucky with my timetable. All three are on Tuesday to Thursday only. This leaves me Monday and Friday to do any clinical work at the hospital when it comes to it. I hope to complete an ethics application this semester and begin the clinical side of the CF work as soon as this gets accepted.

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