2.8 Save time by getting feedback from key supervisors/co-authors at this early stage

Many new researchers hesitate to seek feedback from their key supervisors/co-authors on their paper at this early stage of its development (defining, drafting and then refining the take-home message). While such hesitation could stem from any number of reasons, the outcome is the same: writing the paper risks taking longer than it needs to take.

Just imagine: you spend two weeks of your life writing the first complete draft of your paper. You’ve had to put many other obligations and interests on hold to write this draft paper. When you finally do the ‘big reveal’ and ask your key supervisors/co-authors for feedback on your paper, they may tell you it’s a good paper and that – with some fine-tuning – it’s good to go to the next stage of the publication pipeline. However, if you haven’t had feedback from your key supervisors/co-authors on your take-home message, it’s likely that they’ll have much more substantial feedback on your paper’s first complete draft. They may strongly suggest (and have good reason to do so) that you change the content, format and/or order of the data presented in the paper. They may strongly suggest that you change the ’emphasis’ on the paper (a.k.a. – the take-home message). They may point out that your conclusions are not supported by the data. In any case, the changes that you then need to make to your paper are going to take a substantial amount of your additional time, possibly involving deletion of paragraph after paragraph of your carefully-crafted text. Sometimes, the changes can be so complex that it’s actually faster and easier to delete the whole paper and start again.

Two brains are better than one. Your key co-authors will have ideas about the paper that will help you to make it clear and compelling. As co-authors, they also have the right to know what direction the paper is headed, and to be able to choose that direction with you from the outset.

Bring your key co-authors on board as you define, draft and refine your paper’s take-home message, and you’ll save time in the long-run.

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