My manuscript review process
On the 14 January 2019 I had one main task to do…read a manuscript and write a peer-review report on it. In my notes I listed the various specific sub-tasks I had to do for this work:
- Read the manuscript
- Draft broad ideas and comments on originality
- Re-read manuscript for details and annotate
- Check equations and use of valid statistical methods
- Check some references and perform a literature search
- Draft main comments
- Draft minor comments by section
- Re-read my draft and edit for clarity.
I was able to get the first 6 specific sub-tasks done before getting distracted with second examining duties for a masters level course.
But the fact I wrote down this list of sub-tasks before starting the work means that I approach the review in a fairly organized way. And, I have a sort of ‘to do list’ for my review process.
Operations manual for internal processes
My approach had me thinking of a recent exercise our campus has been involved in. An external auditor’s analysis showed we may be inefficient in how we do things and make decisions. Each department had to document its internal processes and for each process we also had to identify the inputs and the outputs.
All businesses and organizations have key processes that they rely on to conduct their daily and seasonal operations. Professionals also have key processes that show up in their day to day work. So, why not borrow the idea of a business operations manual for our own professional work.
Creating the operations manual
The operations manual is a checklist of tasks you need to do to move your inputs through to produce an output in the most efficient way. One good thing about the manual is that it is not fixed in stone. You can make changes to it. The best time to update the manual is just after you have implemented the process.
I see benefits in creating the operations manual. Firstly, I don’t have to reinvent the process every time I need to conduct a particular activity. I could just open the manual, get the checklist, and do the work. Secondly, the only decisions I will have to make will be related to the actual work.
Creating an operations manual can be a complex or simple project. I’m suggesting just 8 steps to create my first operations manual.
- Map out the outputs I am expected to produce.
- For each output, map out the process.
- For each process, identify the inputs and the people involved.
- Track the work schedule of each person in the process and identify completion times for each task in each process.
- Create a timeline from beginning to end for each process.
- Then, identify possible bottlenecks and research how to prevent the bottleneck.
- Finally, for each process, draw a flowchart or write out the checklist of activities. Document in soft copy and in hard copy.
- And, don’t forget to implement and review.
All of the steps listed above can take some time to do so schedule the operations manual as a project on your calendar. However, I look forward to doing this, and more so, to an easier and more enjoyable experience in my professional work.