The pace of publication – does qualitative take longer?

I just had my first paper from my dissertation published: Comparing Experts and Novices on Scaffolded Data Visualizations using Eye-tracking. It was on the (mostly) quantitative results of my mixed-methods study, completed in early 2013. My co-author and I started on it last fall, and submitted it in April of this year. The review was supposed to take 6 weeks, but they had trouble finding reviewers, so around August I asked what the status was, we found another reviewer, and we got reviews in September. We made changes, resubmitted early October, and last week I got notice it was accepted and could be published this month if we made final revisions by today. This morning, the email came that it is published. So, overall just over a year to actual publication, because the journal is online (and some of their revision cycles are even faster, according to their web site!).

I wonder, however, if it’s also because the work is quantitative, or at least more mainstream than the interviews? Actually, it has a section on the qualitative results of the eye-tracking I did, too, but the reviewers really didn’t say much about these. In any case, the main results from my dissertation, on the interviews I did, are further behind in the process. I’ve had to submit to at least 3 journals at this point, due to length issues, then scope issues. To do the work justice, I’ve had to keep it long, as it is interviews, and the results for the reviewers to judge can’t be distilled into neat little tables. The first journal hadn’t listed length restrictions but actually had them and said it would be of interest if it was shorter, so I went to a different journal that had the longest length I could find but was so competitive that they didn’t accept the paper in the shape it was in. Then I cut the paper so far down that the first journal decided it wasn’t in scope after all. At the same time, I’ve had pushback on another qualitative methods paper I’ve tried to submit because it is a less familiar method to that field, partly because, again due to length restrictions, I couldn’t explain in sufficient detail for the reviewers.

So, the title of this post wasn’t intended to be a pun or double-entendre, but I guess it is. Are the lengths related, that is, the necessity to write longer papers to fully explain qualitative work means longer time to publication, due to fewer journals and less familiarity with some of the methods? This is a completely unscientific sample, of course, because I’ve been writing these papers different lengths of time, the quantitative journal was completely online and pretty specialized, but the ease of the process for the quantitative paper with which *I* was less comfortable (my collaborator is the statistician), even with the trouble finding reviewers, makes me wonder. It’s almost enough to make me want to do quantitative research from here on out.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The pace of publication – does qualitative take longer?

  1. Update: this morning I picked up my latest issue of GSA Today, from the Geological Society of America. Their “Groundwork” commentary article describes a similar issue in fieldwork versus quantitative data, especially compounded by a bias in funding: http://www.geosociety.org/gsatoday/archive/24/12/article/i1052-5173-24-12-44.htm

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