PLoS ONE and stupid CV tricks

September 13, 2012

One of my first posts on the academic CV noted that you should actively manage how it *looks*.

My suggestion is, if you expect to have a career you had better have a good idea of what the standards are. So do the research. Do compare your CV with those of other scientists. What are the minimum criteria for getting a job / grant / promotion / tenure in your area? What are you going to do about it? What can you do about it? Don’t misunderstand me- nobody is going to hand you a job / grant / etc just because you hit the modal publication numbers. But it will be very easy for you to be pushed out of the running if you do NOT hit the expected values. So do what you can to keep your CV as competitive as possible.

Meaning that more is better, yes, when it comes to publications. But beyond that, that you should have some idea of the expectations for your field. Especially when it comes to first-author vs. multi-author collabs, senior author vs penultimate vs communicating author, IF cachet, etc.

My advice was to seek balance and to work actively to fill the holes. A little down in one area, such as productivity? Then slice the sausage a little thinner. Have plenty of pubs but not enough first-author? Get a little more selfish in the lab this year. Etc.

One issue that requires longer term planning is the publication year consistency. I.e. all else equal it is good to have a steady rate with publications in each calendar year (which is a major part of the citation, very salient.). Obviously subfields vary and so do journals. You should have some idea of the lag time from acceptance to print publication so that you can predict what calendar year a given submission of yours might hit.

For many of the most rapid of my subfield’s usual journals, if you aren’t submitting by Apr-May there’s no chance for that year. For some, even Mar would be a stretch…and for others, 12-18 mo from accept to print is quite possible.

If you have a steady manuscript submit rate, are deep into your career and are the PI- none of this really matters. You have a steady pipeline going and all is well. For the rest of us however…

Sometimes you want to do what you can to shore up *this* calendar year on the CV.

Since PLoS goes to official pub date quite rapidly after acceptance (none of this pre-publication queuing business) this makes it attractive for submitting late in the year.


No Responses Yet to “PLoS ONE and stupid CV tricks”

  1. pyrope Says:

    My Dept/U counts productivity based on appointment time (Sept 1 – Aug 31), so actual year date doesn’t matter as much to the bean counters…but, the same rules of getting stuff out in a 12 month window still apply. I like the PlosOne idea.
    In my field (ecology) there’s also a pretty huge range in how long both the review and time to print processes take…finding the faster ones just comes with experience and asking your friends.


  2. drugmonkey Says:

    finding the faster ones just comes with experience and asking your friends.

    Yes, but you can also get a good read from looking at the length of the Articles in Press list and reviewing the “submitted, revised, accepted” dates on manuscripts in a given print issue. Publishers differ in how much info they provide but you can sometimes get a very good estimate with only about 15 min of work.


  3. anon Says:

    DM – you realize those “submitted, revised, accepted” dates are bullshit. Many journals will reject papers (PLoS and other glamour mags do this), but will invite authors to submit a revision. The submission of the revised paper is then counted as a new submission (and marked as the “submitted” date, even though the authors have killed themselves for the last 3 months or so revising, after waiting at least 4 months or so for the initial review). The “newly” submitted manuscript will go back to the same editor and same reviewers who will treat it as a revision. Usually, the *third* round, which may or may not go out for review again, will qualify as the “revised” date, and so on. This has been my experience. So, looking at these dates on the published article gives the impression that the process takes 3-5 months, when, in reality, it can be up to 2 years. But then I am a speck on the landscape. A nobody. Probably big cheezzes get an easy pass and get through much more quickly.


  4. @anon
    I don’t know about the higher impact PLoS journals such as PLoS Biology, but as an AE at PLoS ONE, I can assure you that isn’t the policy at all there — there is no fooling around with dates, and a rejection is a real rejection.

    That being said, I have encountered other journals, mostly from the Nature family, where this sort of thing (reject with the expectation of resubmission) is standard practice, and I imagine it is to keep the “submitted, revised, accepted” times short.


  5. drugmonkey Says:

    anon- of course. you are identifying an additional factor that people need to be aware of. but so what? my suggestion gives a reasonably accurate read for a manuscript under the assumption of a normal process. which holds sway at many real journals in my subareas of interest. it should be obvious that if you get rejected the clock re-starts…whether that is at another journal or the same journal.

    I imagine it is to keep the “submitted, revised, accepted” times short.

    that….and to conceal shenanigans having to do with their reviewers sitting on reviews and just ever so conveniently submitting something related there or at a competing glamour.


  6. miko Says:

    This was not my glam experience… submit date is the original submit date despite 2 long rounds review and including a reject, appeal, more review etc. Submitted to published online was 1 year.

    Not saying it doesn’t happen.


  7. Virgil Says:

    Just today I got an email from a journal I’m on the EB of…. We’ve reached our article/page limit for the year, so anything you accept from now on will not be assigned to an issue until 2013. Please try to be more selective.

    Not sure if this is common, but depending on when the start/end of the year is for different journals, the turnaround delay could vary significantly if you hit their cycle at the right time.


  8. AcademicLurker Says:

    Related to the general CV advice: other people will use ISI Web of Science to assess your productivity.

    Check occasionally to make sure that all your publications are actually there and correctly listed. They make mistakes, but will fix them quickly when informed.


  9. […] output, being concerned with whether a manuscript submitted to Journal X at this point in the year will have a pub date from this year, etc it has to do mostly with motivation. Most of the time the pace of submission for a postdoc is […]


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