Friday, February 11, 2011

Manuscript reviews--sometimes worth ignoring

The recent acceptance of my article has been a nice and needed boost.  With my new confidence, I finally went back to a paper that had been rejected at a big-name journal.  Rejected 5 years ago!  The reviewers were not at all encouraging; one was dismissive.   Since the journal accepts less than 10% of submitted papers, I wasn't surprised by the rejection.  But the tone of the rejection was discouraging.

In the meantime, I had a baby.  Opening up this document after so long, I had forgotten the specific time-line:
July 5, 2005, 9:49PM:  send final draft of paper to big name journal and close document.
July 6, 2005, 4:00AM:  water breaks, go into labor, have a baby.

Yup, I got that paper out in the nick of time.  And the journal took 5 months to get back to me with a decision.  I wasn't in a big hurry at that point.  But still, I could have really used reviewer comments that were a bit more constructive criticism and less destructive criticism. 

So I just tucked it away and never got back to it.  A month or so after receiving the reviews, I got a job offer for the job I have now.  And with the whirlwind that followed, I never really brought myself to read the paper again. 

I should have just sent the same paper out to another journal.  That is what an ex-colleague (who published tons) used to do.  He'd print out, say, 3 copies of the paper, along with 3 cover letters addressed to different journals.  Then he'd address 3 envelopes.  He'd send the first one out.  If it was rejected, he'd just reach over to the pile, grab the next envelope and pop it into the mail.  He wouldn't make any revisions based upon the reviewer comments.  (I don't even know if he read the reviewer comments!)  He told me that the next journal would just want different revisions anyway, so he didn't waste his time.  Hardcore.  Thick-skin.  But apparently it works.  He published his way to early tenure and then a new and better job.

Anyway, now I finally did read through that paper, and it isn't bad!  I'm NOT going to read through the reviewer comments.  Why bother.


  1. Don't read the comments! I've done a version of what your ex-colleague did since I tweaked the article to suit the journal that I sent it out too. It worked.

  2. Your ex-colleague is a master at dealing with rejection. I've sent out some novel proposals and it's basically the same thing. Set up peer reviewers you can rely on (because if they all point out the same problem, then it can be fixed). Beyond that, it's mostly a matter of taste and/or grumpiness, so you should just keep sending it out.