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97. 📒 my first peer-reviewed article took three years to publish 📒
thinking about what that time has given me
Hello, and happy Monday.
Last week marked the beginning of the Foundations in Asian American Studies course that I’m teaching online this summer. It was so lovely to finally meet the folks who signed up for the class, and I am already so grateful for their vulnerability and openness in engaging with the history of Asians in the Americas. I’ve already experienced synchronicities in my daily life that mirror some of the things we’re talking about, which is also how I know that an experience is meaningful to me. For instance: as our main text, we are reading Erika Lee’s *The Making of Asian America.* Late this week, I found myself on YouTube (as one does 😊) and started watching a video of Rina Sawayama talk about her apartment:
I love Rina, and I love interiors, so obviously it was enjoyable. But, about five minutes in, I noticed something at the corner of a shot of her bookshelf:
She also has a copy of The Making of Asian America!! How wild!! This has just been one of many synchronicities—I know others call them “the murmurs” that have already taken hold since I’ve started to teach this course. I’m so excited to see what the next four weeks hold with this community.
✏️ Still processing.
Back in October, I wrote about the release of my first published piece in my capacity as an academic. This was for an edited collection of scholarly essays on US-Iran relations and was solicited by the editor of the volume. This publication was my very first academic byline outside of the odd book review here and there, and has meant so much for me to share with my intellectual community and with you all!
Well, this week I have news to share with you again: I just celebrated the publication of my first article in a peer-reviewed journal! I am so, so happy that this piece is being published in Amerasia, one of the journal that I read as soon as it comes out. It is also so meaningful to have this work on Iranian Americans in the post-9/11 era be published in a venue of Asian American Studies. In the article, I make the case for the inclusion of Iranian diaspora studies in the field of Asian American Studies. It feels so validating that the editors and the reviewers who read my piece were persuaded by it.
For those of you who aren’t academics, publishing in a peer-reviewed venue means that your work went through a blind review by scholars who commented and critiqued your work, ultimately determining if it was suitable for publication in the venue. These scholars are usually ones who are in your field or sub-field, and they are meant to assess the rigor of the argument and evidence. The idea is that they provide anonymous comments to the author to make it a better piece, and ultimately, if said author is able to address their concerns, in theory, the piece is likely to be published.
There have been many documented problems with the system—you can see discussions of some of them here and here—which have been exacerbated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Social media has also been a space where academics try to laugh their way through these issues, some of which you can see with the #sixwordpeerreview hashtag and the reviewer #2 meme. I myself have written about this process of revising and resubmitting my work after receiving reviewer comments (on this article, no less!). Here’s the thing: despite trying your best to revise, the piece can still be rejected. Given my current place in my career, there’s nothing I can really do to enact change to this process except try my best to submit without personalizing the feedback that I receive.
In the spirit of transparency, I want to tell you that I have been working on this article for years—three, to be exact. I first submitted this article in July 2019, and the article itself was rejected from two journals prior to being accepted at Amerasia. At both of those journals, I went through two rounds of revise & resubmits before it ultimately got rejected. Does this mean that my piece didn’t deserve to eventually be published once I found the right way to put things and found it the right home? No. Do I think there were bad faith reviewers along the way? Yes. (One reviewer did call me—not my writing—“dictatorial,” “tyrannical,” and “wrong-headed” in my thinking. That really hurt.) But, do I think that I came away with a stronger and more nuanced piece because of the timespan over which I wrote it? Yes. The act of being in different departments in different places alongside different scholars as my colleagues gave me the vocabulary and logic to talk through a really interesting process that I saw emerge in Iranian diasporic cultural production of the post-9/11 era.
I wrote what I did above because I want those of you in academia to know that you are not the only one if you’ve received critical feedback that you weren’t hoping to get. I also want you to know that you are not alone if—even after two R&Rs to a journal—your piece still gets rejected for publication. It doesn’t mean that your ideas and your arguments aren’t important. While the rejection along the way was at times really difficult to take, I truly believed in the importance of this piece and its arguments. So much so, that I wanted them to be out in the world more than anything I had written so far, which is why I continued to work on it. Each time I saw a comment that was harsh, I realized that I was hitting a nerve that needed to be opened up more, but also examined with greater empathy. The product, I think, is something that I am so proud of.
Keep going. Someone in the world needs to hear your words.
🌀 Still consuming.
In this corner of the internet, we love Rina and everything she does, including the above music video. 🌈 Let’s go girls!!
📖 Book club corner.
Friends! July’s book club pick is A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders! I’m so excited, and a big thank you to Lydia for choosing this month’s books and facilitating our meeting at the end of the month! You can purchase the book here and find meeting details below.
Here’s the event info:
Date & Time: Tuesday, July 26 @ 5PM PST/8PM EST
Suggested Donation (for those able to donate): $3-10 through Paypal or Venmo (@idyalz) (A note that 100% of donations will go to Lydia!)
If you are interested in facilitating a book club and have been to more than two book club meetings, feel free to reach out to me!
You can learn more about the tiny driver book club here!
🐶 A pup-date.
Higgins loves going in his little hiding place when my parter is working. I feel like he’s giving me a little Mona Lisa smile???
As always, thanks so much for reading through, and I'll see you in the next one!