Decision In Progress

Personally, I do quick-and-dirty decision-making. You won’t find me tiptoeing in a dressing room, trying to decide whether or not to buy that pretty-but-slightly-expensive dress. I’m not the kind of person who endlessly compares the market for the best laptop, to then only ‘decide’ to postpone all decision-making until the newest version has come out. I see, I think, I decide, full stop; that’s how fast it goes. This certainly means I take bad decisions from time to time, and I take full responsibility. Interestingly, I hardly ever feel regret. I would just rather be wrong than wasting my time on decision-making.

Which is why I consider myself quite unlikely to ever become the editor of a scientific journal. To get your scientific writings published, you are to submit it through a journal’s webpage. If you wish, you may log onto the system at any time to check your manuscript’s status, which is regularly updated by the journal’s editor. Statuses come in many forms, and bring about different levels of distress. My personal favourite, without any doubt (I told you I’m good at this), is ‘under review’. Your bestseller-article made it through the first round, and you may now sit back and relax for at least a few weeks while the reviewers do their job.

Here’s another favourite: ‘decision in progress’. After expert reviewers have provided the editor with their recommendations, the editor is to decide what to do with the manuscript. Now if I were the editor, the chances of anyone ever logging onto the system to witness a ‘decision in progress’ would be very slim, but unlike me, editors tend to take their time. In fact, some of my manuscripts have kept editors in the process of decision making for weeks! Notwithstanding, I like the ‘decision in progress’ phase, for two reasons. One, seeing ‘decision in progress’ is about as exciting as it gets for scientists, who spend most of their days sitting at a desk, writing papers, waiting for their experiments to fail and for their algorithms to run. Just imagine: every time you hit the refresh button, there could be a decision! And so that’s what I do, again and again and again (and I know I’m not the only one!). Here’s the other reason why I like ‘decision in progress’: it sets off my imagination. I visualise the editor, an old, beardy man wearing a gilet and a tweed jacket, sitting at an oak desk in his dimly-lit study in an old house. Chewing on the back of a pencil while staring into nothingness with a hard look on his face. My manuscript in front of him. And for weeks, he just sits there, thinking, staring, deciding… I do hope his wife brings up tea and biscuits every now and then.

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