Chapter 212: First Submission (3)

Qin Ye took a deep breath, “Are you confident?”

Gu Qing chuckled softly, revealing a cocksure attitude, “Lord Qin, I don’t want to boast, but do you know how governmental reports have traditionally been done? They’ve been scrutinized down to the tee, trading out all ambiguous and imprecise words with far more beautifully crafted synonyms. No matter how rigorous an academic paper is, can it truly hold a candle to the level of governmental reports and speeches?” (TL: Really? I would’ve thought that academic papers, especially scientific ones, are the most rigorous of them all. And perhaps the only governmental reports that can match up to scientific papers would be reports from the legislature that are intended to only convey a single meaning.)

Qin Ye heaved a long sigh of relief. He felt like a huge rock was lifted off his chest, and he massaged his temples as he allowed his thoughts to drift away.

It was certainly reassuring to have such a reliable general under his command. He truly experienced the might of talents right now. That said, this general represented “knowledge”, and mere knowledge would never be sufficient if he wanted the new Hell to rise from desolation and be restored to its former glory.

After all, it is only when one possesses the might of an iron fist that he can truly begin to negotiate with leverage. Cathay’s reputable generals had all been whisked off to paradise by Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. This research paper represented the gateway to both seizing Nobunaga’s soul, as well as an opportunity to accelerate Hell’s growth. Qin Ye would never miss out on such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Over the next few days, Lin Han and Su Feng visited him several times, only to find a ‘do not disturb’ sign on his door. In order to remain under the radar, Qin Ye would leave his room for the cafeteria from time to time. Nevertheless, he spent most of his time in Hell.

Admittedly, Gu Qing was a talent through and through. Given the offices he had held in his previous life, he would have seen more than his fair share of reports and speeches, ranging from national-level reports right down to county-level speeches. Over the next few days, Gu Qing sat down with Qin Ye and rejigged the entire paper in segments, listening patiently to Qin Ye’s train of thought and logical processes, before redrafting and reworking certain portions.

Every paragraph and every sentence would see slight amendments and editorial changes to them, and yet it was these minor alterations that transformed the overall impression of the paper in its entirety.

How do we put it… The previous edition of his research paper could be described as one that was largely drafted in non-academic vernacular, and there were even parts which were written in language that was more colloquial rather than formal and academic. But as Gu Qing did his magic, the minor tweaks transformed the entire tone of the paper into one that was formal, and it even began to exude a sense of deep professionalism.

It was still a similarly smooth and easy read, yet the experience was completely different. The entire thesis was being elevated and refined right before his very eyes, and Qin Ye’s confidence in securing a publication in Cultivators Weekly grew day by day.

Just like that, Qin Ye and Gu Qing tackled the research paper with all their hearts, even engaging in intense discourse over several occasions… Then finally, on the early morning of the fourth day, they finally tweaked the last of issues on the draft research paper. Both men finally heaved a long sigh of relief.

“It seems like I’m getting old…” Gu Qing rubbed his temples, “To think that I’d spent so much time on reworking a three thousand word thesis. It would’ve taken no more than two days in the past.”

Qin Ye didn’t respond. Instead, he cast a long, deep look at the paper in front of his eyes. The meaning conveyed hadn’t changed one bit, but it now gave its readers a completely different impression.

Precise, cogent, and logically watertight.

“Mr Gu.” He gazed deeply into Gu Qing’s eyes, “How confident are you of this paper as it stands right now?”

“Provided they aren’t blind as bats, I’m a hundred percent certain that this will get published!” Gu Qing responded with absolute certainty.

Qin Ye drew a deep breath and clenched his fists tightly, “What I’m saying is… for them to dedicate the entire page to this paper.”

Gu Qing’s eyes flickered, “Lord Qin, the quality of this paper is definitely sufficient to justify a full page publication. But that said, there are a number of other variables to consider as well.”

“You should be aware that newspapers in Cathay are all highly political in nature. I’m not sure just how politically aligned Cultivators Weekly is, but there’s always the possibility that the editors might receive instructions from above to publish a certain topic or promote a certain point of view. Under such circumstances, even a heaven-defying paper wouldn’t be able do anything to sway such directives.”

“Furthermore, you’ll have to consider the preferences of the chief editor. This is why I’d chosen to revise certain portions of the paper where the choice of wording was sharp and incisive. Such sharp and incisive words can certainly strike a chord with some people, but they can equally also offend others. If it so happens that the chief editor finds himself aggrieved by your research paper… There’s no need to tread on such thin ice and make such risky bets. It would instead be safer to secure any publications we can get.”

He solemnly added, “Over the last four days, we’d done all we could to neutralize any possibilities of it being bowdlerized, so much so that it can even be considered akin to a press statement right now. Having done so much… and if we exclude any political variables, I sincerely believe that there’s an 80% chance that this research paper will be given a full page publication!”

Qin Ye sighed with relief and picked up the final product, “I’ll take your word for it. If everything goes well, then… you should be able to see the fruits of your effort by the end of June.”

He activated the shard of King Yanluo’s Seal and quickly returned to his dorm room. He took a shower to refresh his mind and spirits, and then spent some time grooming himself to appear more presentable. Finally, he printed out a fresh, finalized edition of the research paper and placed it gingerly into a file, before making a beeline straight to the professors’ office.

Tao Ran was the only one in his office right now. He knocked on the door, and entered after Tao Ran responded. Then, he placed the file containing the draft paper onto the table, “Professor Tao, kindly review our paper.”

Strangely enough, despite having received Gu Qing’s affirmation of the quality of his paper, he still felt somewhat apprehensive and anxious.

Perhaps that was one of the hallmarks of being a human being.

Nobody could predict the outcome with any measure of certainty until the results were clear.

“You’re done?” Tao Ran was just reading the papers when he was startled by Qin Ye’s comments. He glanced at his phone, and then gazed deeply at Qin Ye, “Just twenty days?”

Qin Ye nodded.

Tao Ran didn’t pick up the file immediately. Instead, he spoke somewhat profoundly, “Little Qin, the birth of a polished thesis paper is an incredibly laborious effort. Cultivators Weekly has high standards, and it’s going to be quite difficult to please their taste buds. Even our principals haven’t had many of their articles published on Cultivators Weekly to date. And yet… to think that you’re making your first submission in just twenty days’ time… You… are you certain you don’t want to review it again?”

Just twenty days.

Not even college thesis papers are completed in such a short amount of time, much less an academic paper that is intended to contribute to the cultivation academia!

They’re far too anxious… He sighed in his heart. He knew full well just how anxious the academy’s instructors were to produce tangible results. And this was especially so for insightful instructors like Qin Ye. After all, the fact that he was able to secure such a high grade for his opening lecture certainly lent credence to a good foundation for his research paper!

But that said, it’s already incredibly rare to find good research papers drafted in just three months’ time. Twenty days? I’m afraid you didn’t even take much time to review your own work before your first submission, did you?

“We’ve already reviewed our work many times over.” Qin Ye explained sincerely, “And we can no longer find any better ways to word it. This is why we’ve finally brought it here for your review.”

Tao Ran didn’t say another word. He put on his reading glasses and waved his hand, and the file immediately flew over.

It’s useless to say anymore.

He had once been young, and he was well aware that some lessons could only be learnt when one realized the folly of their ways. He, too, had once submitted what he thought was a flawless thesis paper to his instructor, only to be criticized harshly at every turn of the paper. It was only when one calmed his heart and focused their minds on reviewing and editing that they would finally discover just how many glaring errors they could find. These had only been omitted earlier as a result of their eagerness to submit their work and claim credit for it.

Therefore, the best means of persuasion right now was through action. Since Qin Ye had insisted, Tao Ran wouldn’t hesitate to use a critique of their work to help them realize just how much more time and effort they would have to invest in the pursuit of knowledge before a passable work was produced. One would never be able to eat hot tofu with an anxious heart.

The room quietened down, and Tao Ran pulled out the thin document from the file. He skipped the title and went straight into the meat of the research paper.

Tick, tock, tick, tock… Qin Ye could practically hear time ticking by. Then, approximately five seconds into the review, Tao Ran suddenly exclaimed softly, “Eh?” Then, he looked up from the paper and locked eyes with Qin Ye.

There was a complex look on his face - so complex that not even Qin Ye knew just how to interpret it. The only thing he could sense from Tao Ran’s expression was that of inexplicability.

Eh? Why is this old man looking at me like that? Could he be shocked at my beauty? Don’t just stare at me, say something! …

Yet Tao Ran simply remained taciturn. His expressions remained as unchanging as ever, almost as though it were etched in stone. He read through the entire research paper from start to finish in less than ten minutes. And then…

He read it again.

This time, he looked at it with a closer scrutiny than before. And when he was done, he looked up with a similarly confused and perplexed expression on his face. Finally, he slapped his hand down onto the table and spoke somewhat hoarsely, “This paper… was done by you guys?”

Qin Ye nodded solemnly.

Tao Ran didn’t say much more. Instead, he simply lifted his chin at Qin Ye, “I’ll mull over it a little bit more. You may take your leave for now.”

… This old man’s behaviour isn’t right… Qin Ye felt aggrieved. One of the things which he hated most was being asked to return to his room and wait for an update. Do you know what kind of psychological penumbra this would leave in the hearts of your instructors?!

But there was evidently no room for negotiation. After giving Tao Ran several pleading looks to no avail, he turned around and left Tao Ran’s room with his tail tucked between his legs.

Thud… Tao Ran leaned back on his seat and shut his eyes, listening intently as the door clicked shut. Just like that, he sat in his seat quietly, without moving for the next ten seconds… fifteen seconds… And then when twenty seconds had finally passed, he abruptly opened his eyes once more, leapt to his feet, bolted to the door with the speed of a Hellguard and locked the door to his room.

Then, he rushed back to his seat like lightning and flipped open the thesis once more and read through its contents for the third time straight!

“This… how is this possible?!” Another ten minutes later, he set down the paper and adjusted his glasses, “T-this is completely unscientific!”

“Ah… that’s right, our existence itself isn’t scientific either… No! But this doesn’t even accord well with the fantasy world!”

His voice had only grown hoarser than earlier. He was completely flabbergasted. To think that he had even been thinking of schooling Qin Ye in the ways of properly drafting a research paper just moments ago! How inflated was his ego? This was exactly why he had driven Qin Ye away earlier.

Are you kidding me?

You’re asking me to review this research paper?

The wording is undeniably precise, the structure is compact, and the logic process is impeccably watertight. Not even I could write something like that!

“Phew…” He adjusted his glasses with disbelief. He could be himself right now because no one was watching him. But… but what kind of nonsense is this?! Are these the unreachable heavens of the cultivation academia? It looks so distant from here…

He trembled as he picked up a sheet of paper and flicked it lightly, before gently caressing it as though it were a baby. His voice was shaky, “Perfect! Rigorous! Cogent and well-substantiated! Reading this paper had actually… caused me to feel a certain sense of ecstasy and accomplishment?”

“And this is an academic paper that was drafted by three complete newbies to boot… You’re telling me that this is done by three new instructors? I’m not even sure the provincial ministers could do better than this! These three kids must have cheated, haven’t they?”

Tao Ran was oblivious to the fact that this was in fact reviewed and edited by a provincial minister at that.

But since Qin Ye was already cheating with Arthis’ involvement, what reason was there for him to hold back?

Suddenly, almost as though he recalled something important, Tao Ran grabbed his phone, opened his Momo app and looked for an ID with a profile picture that looked like a fish. He took several deep breaths to regulate his emotions, and it was only after his flushed appearances receded and his heart stopped palpitating that he finally began to type into the chat box.

“Hello, Professor Yu. I’m Professor Tao Ran, the professor of the Faculty of Combat from the First Academy of Cultivators, one of your former students. Incidentally, I’m also Qin Ye’s professor right now. I’ve got an interesting research paper here that I’d like you to evaluate if possible.”

That’s right… Little Qin and Professor Yu seem to be on rather good terms. Such refined language use and profound and professional writing style must be the handiwork of Professor Yu, right?

After all, Professor Yu was a respectable figurehead that was akin to the big brother of the cultivation academia, and Tao Ran’s only thought right now was to grab tightly onto Professor Yu’s legs and cry out for his attention - Teacher! Look at me in the eye and tell me whether you’re helping the instructor under my charge cheat!

Tactful… I’ve got to be tactful… Professor Yu will know exactly what I’m talking about as soon as I send this paper to him.

It’s almost as though Professor Yu just wants us to praise his intellect and knowledge!

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