Friday, February 09, 2007

I see a formatting nightmare in my future

I promise never again to complain about students not listening to instructions.* Faculty are just as bad.

As editor of a proceedings volume from a recent conference, I sent out an email to people who had said they intended to submit their papers. It was fairly short and included the following lines (direct quotes):

"All submissions will be anonymously peer-reviewed."

"Please find attached to this email the "guidelines for authors" issued by the publishers. We can only accept manuscripts that follow the conventions laid out in this document, so please read it carefully."
The guidelines for authors included, among other instructions, the following:
"Please leave two spaces between sentences, two spaces after a colon, and one space after other punctuation."

"Please double space your paper."
A few weeks later I got an email from one of the authors, saying:
I have read the guidelines and generally followed them. But I have a few formatting questions. [Publisher] requires authors to 'leave two spaces between sentences, two spaces after a colon, and one space after other punctuation (p. 10)'. Do I need to strictly follow it? Also, do I need to double-space my paper?
To which, of course, the correct response would be, "No, you do not need to follow these instructions. I just sent them out to see how many authors would be willing to jump through meaningless hoops."

Today I received a submission (several months late), with this in the cover letter:
I've been rushing to pull the paper together, so I haven't checked if you had any specific formatting requirements. Can you cast a glance at it and see if there's anything outlandish about it?
Gah! Just, gah!


* Well, not for a few weeks, anyway.


betty said...

i KNOW! i learned that faculty can be just as bad as students when i started my new job.

for a short period of time i am playing the role of a department administrator. right now, during graduate admissions, i am in charge of setting up interview schedules which means i need to know when faculty are free or not. we set up a new online system where faculty can easily check of what times they are available. i emailed them all with the link and out of 200 faculty (it's a big program) FORTY people emailed me back with their schedule right in the email. they never went to the site or anything (which meant i had to enter their information for them so that it would be in the database).

one faculty emailed me and gave me a link to his google calendar and told me if he has some free time that overlapped with an interview to pencil him in!!!!! grrr.

i am also on a committee with a bunch of other faculty for which i wrote a report summarizing our findings. i sent it out to everyone and our plan for the next meeting was to finalize the draft. no one read it and when i showed up i had to sit there for three hours while they read it IN THE ROOM WITH ME sentence by sentence and edited it as a group. torture! and we only got half way through so i have more to look forward to on tuesday.

StyleyGeek said...

Argh. That sounds so frustrating, betty. No one ever responds to emails in our department either. Some people don't use it on principle, other don't know how to use it, and others just never get around to it.

Anonymous said...

not just restricted to academics believe me...