Hatchet job on my work!


Hi all

Studies were going well, had written my very first solo article, my supervisor had read it and I'd corrected it, submitted it, and reviewers liked it. Had to make a few changes for the reviewers. Gave it back to my supervisor for another look - and she's done a hatchet job on it! Has made about 70 comments on a 10,000 word article! She's made far more comments than the reviewers!!

And now concerned that I won't ever get this done, if she's going to be this anal. Have 6 months to write the thesis....

...sitting here crying instead of working....:-(


Do you need her approval for this? I know it would be nice to have it, I know this sort of criticism is the last thing you need at this stage, but really this is now between you and the journal, isn't it?

At the end of the day, you can't please all of the people all of the time. Do the work the journal's reviewers have asked you to do on this paper right now, do the work your supervisor asks you to do on your thesis prior to submission, and do the work the examiners ask you to do on your thesis after your viva.

As you suggest, time is of the essence here. If this revised paper would be accepted for publication just as it stands, right now, there's a very strong case for just ignoring your supervisor's comments, sending it off, and turning your attention to your thesis.

(Maybe you could suggest to your supervisor that you've got your wires crossed - you were just showing her the finished version, not looking for a second critique?)

I do think it might be worth having a conversation with your supervisor about this, though. You're justifiably surprised by the number of comments she's made on this paper at this (very!) late stage, and hence understandably worried that dozens of comments are going to start appearing on your thesis similarly late in the day, and I think it's probably worth making her aware of this and hopefully clearing the air.


Thank you for your thoughtful response. Yes, will take on board some of her comments, but not all. Have decided I'll spend one more day on the article, and that's it until the reviewers come back to me again. And will have a talk with her about her approach to reviewing my chapters, and see how I go.

Took some advice posted elsewhere, had the afternoon off, am not going to work tonight, and will tackle the beast again tomorrow.



Surely she had her chance first time round.
These second comments, I would see as suggestions.
Treat them as such.


Aberdeen is on the ball!
Go to her, say you have a whole load of work already done and don't want to contradict what was said by the first reviewers. So just ask what would be the suggestions that are IMPERIATIVE rather than wanted. I hate this whole thing of when you know you are right but still have to do the "Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir!"

If still baulking after that, tell her that in the interest of your work, you will submit without her name on the paper.


Remember: it's YOUR work, YOUR style of writing; the comments are merely suggestions and reflect this persons way of constructing and writing. Take 'em on board if you want; ignore those you don't.

End of the day; if you like it; submit it.


Hi again everyone

Thanks for your advice - it made me feel a lot better. I took a couiple of days off, then had a look at my sups' comments, and most of them were relevant (unfortunately!). Changed the article extensively, and realised that she's trying to make my writing more precise, so I spell out everything, don't make even the smallest assumption, and don't jump to even small conclusions without evidence. Which is what we're supposed to do in a PhD I suppose. So the article is definitely better and have resubmited it.

Today I discussed with her that I thought her style of feedback wasn't the best on this occasion, especially since I wasn't expecting so many comments on work she'd already seen before. Didn't get a lot of satisfaction from this conversation - I think supervisors can be pretty tough sometimes.

Anyway, lessons learnt and now onto the next deadline...