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Women in Science

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Video clip: Tamsin found the reviews for her first paper to be a bit 'harsh', but she has come to be more business-like about reviewers' comments and uses them to improve the paper.

What was it like, your early experiences of getting published?

Again I think, I mean the first paper I wrote which was actually a review paper, so it was the summer of my first year of my PhD. My PhD supervisor was editing a volume, a special publication for the American Geophysical Union and he asked me if I'd like to write something for it.

And the data paper that I had kind of on the go wasn't quite ready. So I said, “Oh I could try, I could try and write a review of what's been done in this area before,” because that would be helpful for me anyway. So I sat down, I sort of just shut myself away a bit really for a couple of weeks and did it and the comments back were quite harsh. So, I don't know, if I look at them now, they probably weren't as harsh as I felt they were, but you know I think when you're not used to peer review I think it can be quite stinging. But parts of it, they were just frustrating because it felt as if they hadn't really realised I was trying to write a review paper, yes, I had comments like, “There's no new data in this,” and I was like no, I know, it's not what I was trying to do [laughs]. So I suppose that was a little bit negative. But I think thereafter that was probably quite a good learning experience because I went away and re-did it and actually it was very well received in the end, the paper when it was finally out, and still used today.

But I think it was quite a good learning experience because when you get quite harsh reviews first off, most of the other reviews back on my PhD papers were much milder than that and got a lot better. But I think I also just had to, I don't quite know why because I'm not particularly, I don't think of myself as a particularly thick-skinned person but I don't remember being particularly, I remember being quite business-like about it and realising that part of the process was to get criticised and to learn from the criticisms and to take them on the chin and then to come back from that.