Finishing that paper…

When you start to write a paper for publication, you generally think that it will take a fortnight, at most. Naturally, that’s almost always a highly optimistic estimate and it can take months to get a paper into shape for submission to a journal. 

I’m currently working on the Galaxy Zoo paper dealing with the host galaxies of AGN (active galactic nuclei – accreting supermassive black holes). Your classifications from Zoo1 are making it possible for us to look at AGN host galaxies in a completely new light and, in particular, see how they’re different from galaxies whose black holes aren’t accreting at the moment. The diagrams and plots are done and the text is now mostly there (10,000 words and counting!), but some of the crucial sections are still very much in the draft stage.

I’ve circulated two earlier drafts with the team to get their comments and suggestions and I’ve mostly finished incorporating them into the text. However, as am writing up the part of the paper where I’m trying to explain what it all means, it’s becoming clear that there’s a lot that the morphologies that your classifications made possible are telling us that’s new and, to be honest, quite mystifying. 

That means that I will still have to do some more writing, thinking and discussing with experts on our team on various aspects, all of which of course take time. I started work on this paper in the autumn of 2008, and I’m still working on it.  So you can see that getting a scientific paper from an idea to something you can submit can take quite a long time, especially when you start finding things you didn’t expect. And of course, once the paper is finished and submitted to a journal, the process of peer-review begins, which in turn can take weeks, months, or even years.

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4 responses to “Finishing that paper…”

  1. Infinity says :

    Thanks for the update.
    I guess things stretch out as you approach the event horizon here too 😉

  2. zeus2007 says :

    I’m sure it’ll get far, this is really very cool stuff. The best for the team!

  3. Mark OConnell says :

    Keep at it Kevin. Glad we could help spice things up a bit. I can’t wait to find out what this “new” stuff is.

  4. Ryan says :

    Having just finished submitting two papers myself, I must heartily agree with you, there were a number of points when we just sat back and said, “What the heck does THAT mean?” Good luck, and try long lunch breaks or thinking in the shower. 😛 You’d be surprised.

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