Can you feel a draft?
As you may have noticed from the sparseness of recent posts, the Galaxy Zoo team have all been buckling down in an effort to get some work done. Progress on my Galaxy Zoo paper has been a little delayed by the need to do some work for another project I’m involved with: the GAMA survey. The first observations for this survey will start in a few weeks time, so I couldn’t really put off doing my bit to help make sure we target the right objects! All astronomers usually have several different projects on the go, some of which span years. Juggling them all can get a little tricky. Anyway, with my most urgent work out of the way, I’ve had another push on my Galaxy Zoo paper and today I sent a draft version around to the team members for them to have a look at.
Generally, although several people may contribute to a scientific paper, the main business of writing the text and putting together the figures is done by one person, the lead author. This person is usually the one who has done the most work producing the results that are described in the paper, and their name comes first in the author list. Once the paper is mostly complete, although still at an early stage, it is often sent around the coauthors for comments. It is helpful to get input from the coauthors at this stage to help refine the overall structure and content of the paper before too much effort has gone into checking the fine details, because these will get messed up again if the paper ends up being rearranged following the coauthors feedback.
We’ve recently had drafts set around the Galaxy Zoo team by Kevin and Chris, and today Kate also sent hers. These are all looking good, though some still need a little bit more analysis including. When the rest of the authors have given their feedback, the lead author tries to incorporate their suggestions into the paper. Sometimes this process might go through a couple of cycles before a final draft is produced. The final draft is then proof read by some of the coauthors, to check the spelling, grammar, style, and to generally improve the clarity of the text.
Finally, when all the authors are content, the paper is submitted to a journal for peer review, prior to being publishing. We’ll describe that stage in a bit more detail when we get there.