2/10, see me

One way and another, I have been having to do a lot of corrections this week. I spend a considerable portion of my working life writing feedback on student assignments, so when the boot is on the other foot and people are pointing out what is wrong with my work, I respond in exactly the measured and adult fashion you would expect.

All academic writing is peer-reviewed before publication. This means that when you send a paper to a journal for publication the editor then sends it anonymously to a least two other scholars who work in the same field for a detailed expert analysis of whether you are talking rubbish or not. The process is an essential part of how academia works and it provides a rigorous check on the quality of research. However, knowing this doesn’t make you feel any better when you get a bunch of reviews back saying, in effect, ‘must try harder’.

A paper of mine has been ‘in review’ with a journal for the past two months and on Wednesday I got the rejection email. After quarter of an hour striding up and down the office letting off steam, I eventually calmed down and read through the reviews. As always, they were a model of professional constructive advice. Once I had read them, and the detailed comments from the editor, and then re-read the paper itself, I realised that yes indeed it did need more work. I also realised that, as is often the way with rejections, part of the problem is that this particular paper was probably better suited to a different journal anyway.

So, back to the drawing board with that one. Simon and I have also been struggling with corrections of a slightly different kind. The elevation data we gathered with the Leica differential GPS a few weeks ago has some interesting patterns in it but there are also problems. We gathered the data in blocks and these are all internally consistent but when we try to fit them all together then the elevations don’t always match across the joins. In practice this means when you plot them out as a terrain model there are sudden angular steps in the site surface, which of course don’t exist in real life. I don’t know what is causing this, there is probably something about the field set-up of the instrument we are not getting quite right, but we are trying to find a method to reliably process the errors out mathematically. We spent a large part of today with the plot open on one screen and the numbers up in a spreadsheet on the other. Simon thinks he has cracked it now and took it all away to work on at home over the weekend.

After all this frustration, now the good news. Martina’s evaluation of the pollen samples from Temple Cave was a success. After many hours of bubbling, whirling, centrifuging and washing, pollen was visible on the first slides. Her next step is to prepare permanent slides for all the samples down the main section. Once she has a sequence for this one site we can start to look at how this links up with other pollen from other parts of the landscape.

Wildlife of the day – probably gremlins



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