News, Publishing a book in a year

Publishing a book in a year – July 2023

Yesterday was a momentous day. My first, I’m not sure what the right word is here, maybe full, PhD student successfully completed her viva. I have supervised PhD students before, but never for the entirety of the project; from idea conception, funding application, three years of project work, thesis writing and viva. I mention it here for two reasons. Firstly, I am over the moon and hugely proud of the work Dominika has accomplished. Publishing three excellent journal papers on bamboo connections[1]. Working across analytical, numerical and experimental fields to carry out a very in depth study.

Secondly, because the PhD viva process mirrors our own experience. Over the course of the last week we have received the feedback on our revised version of the book and we have achieved a major milestone.

The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) are now confident that they will publish the book. It has been a struggle to get to this point. We have drafted and redrafted the book three times, but now it looks like it will be released.

This is a huge relief.

Whilst I am sure there are other publishers we could go with if the IStructE were not happy to publish the book, we really wanted to go with them for two reasons. Firstly, this book is for structural engineers (our people) and therefore who better to publish it (although we hope other professions will also find the book useful, much as we have found books written for architects and others really insightful). And secondly, over the last 2-3 years they have done a fantastic job of sharing resources and moving forward the conversation on climate change[2] and we would be honoured to be part of that work.   

Just as with a PhD thesis, however, there is still work to do. “Minor corrections” as it were.

So between now and September I will be working on the case studies and figures, both editing existing ones and creating new ones. And Oli will be going through the text, making the suggested changes.

We will use a yes, no, maybe approach. Some changes will be simple and we will do them, that’s easy.

Some suggestions we won’t be acting on – for example the request to change yellow lines to green. We spent quite a lot of time thinking about the colours we use and how to make them visible to as many people as possible and changing the colours will undo that work.

Then there are the maybes. These are trickier. They could be a maybe because reviewers disagree and we need to make a final decision. They could be a maybe because they are nice to have’s and we need to work out if we have time to implement the addition.

Our process will be simple. A giant excel table capturing all comments (or most, a number of comments are simple typos which, by the time we have added them to the table, we could have made the correction so we will just do them). The comments will be organised by chapter and section so we can see if multiple reviewers have said the same thing, or provided contradictory feedback. We will then record where the comment came from (which of our 6 reviewers made the comment), who will be making the change, and then colour coding for yes, no and maybe.

Fortunately the reviewers don’t want a blow by blow account of the changes, but applying a systematic approach helps to avoid any missed comments.

We will then resubmit version 4 at the end of September. Reviewers will (hopefully) sign off with no major comments. And we will move into the edit phase. At this stage the publisher will go through the text with a fine toothcomb and hopefully correct my numerous grammatical and spelling errors. Then the text will be laid out in the final book format. And, hopefully, before the end of 2023 the book will be out and I will inviting you to a (online) launch party.

[1] Adaptation of a wood theoretical fracture model for predicting splitting capacity of dowelled connections in bamboo, Theoretical and experimental study on laterally loaded nailed bamboo connection and Study of Screwed Bamboo Connection Loaded Parallel to Fibre


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