Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Extreme makeover: oyster edition

When I was in high school, there was a show on every Sunday night called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I remember watching it with my family as we snacked on popcorn. The premise of the show was simple: a needy family, usually one with a sick child and insufficient resources to afford the necessary accommodations, was sent on vacation while their home was ripped to its studs and remade for free. The family would return home to find a house they didn't recognize, but which finally had the wheelchair access or hospital-quality air filtration their child needed, plus a sunny living room and a landscaped front yard.

This week, I couldn't help but remember those evenings of watching another family get a brand-new house, because I just performed my very own extreme makeover. Do you remember the oyster paper? I've been working for over a year to analyze a dataset about swimming behavior in oyster larvae. I have written code, made graphs, and counted the number of times a larva swam in a helix. When I started the analysis, I calculated all the parameters possible, then spent months whittling the data down into a meaningful story. The paper has gone through countless drafts and iterations as it has been passed among the co-authors. I have started over more than once.

We finally got to the point of submitting the manuscript for publication, and it was reviewed by two independent scientists. (For more about the peer-review process, see this post and this post.) When the reviews came back, the comments indicated that we needed to overhaul the paper yet again.

It took a lot of thought, a lot of iterations, and a lot of revision, but the manuscript is now much better. It tells a clear, cohesive story. I worked with my co-authors, including my advisor and some of her former students, to re-vamp the paper. We have now finally resubmitted it to the journal, so here's hoping the reviewers appreciate our overhaul. We'll see if it is accepted this time!

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