Interview with Pennylane Shen: Graduate Student Publishing

Posted in The Gnovis Blog

I recently had the opportunity to ask Pennylane Shen, a graduate student at NYU who published a paper in the Spring 2009 gnovis journal (new window), about her experiences publishing as a graduate student. While this was not Pennylane’s first time publishing, it was her first experience with peer review. Below, Pennylane shares her thoughts on the ups and downs of peer review, and on why graduate students should make it a point to publish.

What motivated you to submit a paper to the gnovis journal?

I first heard of the opportunity to work with gnovis through my NYU advisor who had sent out a “call for submissions.” After reading other papers on gnovis, I felt my field of study (Visual Culture Theory) and written works were appropriate. Up until that point, I had not come across a journal that focused specifically on media, culture and communication while also being open to broader interpretations of those topics.


Why did you submit the paper that you did? What factors influenced you?

The paper that I submitted, It Came From the East: Japanese Horror Cinema in the Age of Globalization argued that globalization was the leading cause behind the cultural phenomena known as J-horror. A discussion on how technology influences culture (and vice versa) seemed apt for the gnovis journal’s specialization. I also felt subjects of race, identity and film politics had not yet been heavily explored in gnovis. I therefore hoped I could contribute a unique perspective with my paper.


Was this your first experience publishing? If so, what did you learn from it? If not, what was unique about it?

Although gnovis was not my first publication, it was my first experience with peer reviewing. Having to consider multiple perspectives and being able to alter my work accordingly through each reviewing phase was new to me. Of course, I have had peers edit my work before; however, being limited to digital communication I found quite challenging, particularly when exchanging ideas or requesting clarification.


What was the peer review process like for you? What benefits did you glean from peer review, and what challenges did it present?

I had three peer reviewers critique my paper. While the first reviewer offered little to no constructive criticism, the others were very helpful. The unnecessarily abrasive critique given by the first reviewer was discouraging. Luckily, the differing opinions of the other reviewers offered practical and valuable suggestions.


What advice would you give to graduate students who are considering submitting to gnovis or to another journal?

While taking into consideration the suggestions of your peer reviewers, it is also important to discern between constructive criticism and an unworkable differing opinion. If you believe your ideas, fight for them. In the end, it may just be the wording of your argument that provokes controversy during the review processnot the ideas themselves.

Thank you Pennylane!