Friday, October 09, 2009

Call for help (and mini rant)

Wow. I am stunned. Let me tell you what happened.

For several months, I've had an assignment to co-guest-edit a "symposium" (a bunch of articles) on a specific topic for the academic-style journal my department publishes. I actually got this assignment before I went to France and it was sitting there, no progress made at all, when I got back. The idea for the symposium came from a fellow who works in the office that runs the program. I don't work in that office and, in fact, I've never run a study about this program, though I'm reasonably familiar with it.

So, over the last several months, I've been doing this job with no help at all from my supposed co-editor (who now works in a different program office!). I sent the notice out that solicited the articles, I talked to the authors, I rounded up the reviews, I read and added my own comments to each article and I sent the comments and suggestions for revisions to the authors. What did my co-editor do? Nada.

The deadline is fast approaching. Part of the guest-editor duty (that I didn't realize until quite recently) is to write a short intro. Long ago, my co-editor said he'd get someone to write it--but he didn't.

With just a couple of weeks left, I asked my co-editor's old boss, who still works in the office where the program originates, for some help writing the intro. He referred me to the co-editor. Co-editor said he'd write the intro and review one paper--by Wednesday (that is, two days ago).

Yesterday, Thursday, I realized I hadn't heard from my co-editor. I called him. I emailed him. Nothing. Late in the day, I got a call from a woman in his office asking if I needed anything--since he was out of town ON VACATION until Tuesday. Tuesday is the deadline.

I was furious. I did my best not to vent all over the woman who called. I realized that I had to spend Friday and possibly most of the weekend reading the last paper and writing the intro. I reorganized my schedule accordingly and was sort of looking forward to seeing what I could do. I also have a good case for solo-editorship now, and that's ok too.

This morning, still at home, I check my work email and I see but this message from my erstwhile co-editor, "You'll get my intro next week- thought the deadline was 10/13. In Puerto Rico - reading the paper
this weekend. Will have any comments on Tuesday. Looks fine do far."

Um, what? He promised to read the article by Wednesday (two days ago). Both I and another person need to review the intro BEFORE Tuesday. He is leaving us no time at all.

I don't know how to respond. I'm not as angry as I was yesterday but I want to tell him not to bother. I don't trust him to finish when he says he will and he didn't even have the courtesy to let me know he couldn't make the deadline. Argh!  My thought is that I will still do the work. Who knows if he'll come through? And if he doesn't, I'm the one who will look bad.

My question: how do I respond to his email?

Grateful for: work energy.

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