It happens to everyone. Really, it does – rejection from academic journals. It’s almost a rite of passage. Rejection from publishers and journals is a mark of productivity, if you think about it: you’ve finished enough work that you had some to submit for publication. True, it wasn’t accepted, but you put in the work and effort to create the material and submit it – and that’s more than many people do. So that in itself is something to commend yourself for. So yes, rejection from journals is a fact of life for academics, but what do you do once you get a rejection? Read on to find out. (Please note that we are not talking about revise and resubmit notices – only firm rejections).

First, let’s take a look at why articles get rejected. Two very common reasons are if the submission doesn’t fit with the larger journal’s scope or the approach was deemed inappropriate or faulty in some way. Other reasons for rejection can vary, including suspected or confirmed plagiarism, incomplete text or figures, outdated references, or the findings cannot be justified, based on the rest of the article. Other reasons a paper or article is rejected will often be outlined in the rejection letter or notes. Try not to take it personally – it’s not personal; it’s business. Literally. This is the journal’s business. Instead, look at the rejection as a learning opportunity to make your paper even better and your future work more thorough and exact.

There are several choices you have when an article is rejected:

  • Abandon the paper/article completely
  • Don’t make any changes and submit to another journal
  • Make revisions accordingly and submit to another journal
  • Appeal the decision and try to resubmit to the journal

Abandoning the paper or article right off the bat would be a shame. That means giving up on all the research you’ve done. If you submit the article to multiple places and they all outright reject it, it’s time to start thinking about making major changes to it, taking a hard look at the underlying structural problems, or giving up on it completely. But until then, why give up?

If you get valid feedback about necessary revisions and you ignore them, you might leave yourself open to more rejections at worst, and revise-and-resubmit at best with other journals. It may be worth looking at the comments and suggestions and sitting down with a trusted editor (like those at Dissertation Editor) and determining if revisions are necessary and where they can be made in order to strengthen the paper – especially if the comments are about the general structure or large issues in the paper that need to be redone. Making the revisions and taking another look at your work can improve it, so when the time comes to submit to other journals, you know the submission has been revised and is in better shape then before.

It’s only natural to be upset about a rejection. Everyone hates to see their hard work not get the recognition they feel it deserves – but is appealing the decision worth it? Most likely, no. There are low returns on protesting or appealing the decision, and it takes up valuable time that could be better spent revising your current work. Many seasoned academics know that rejection is part of the process, and don’t even think about appealing the decision. If you do decide to appeal, it’s best to be professional, logical, and courteous – all while knowing that it might not change a thing (Don’t forget to check out our post about writing professional emails here).

If you’ve started submitting to journals – or are even thinking about submitting – Dissertation Editor can help! Our expert editors have been where you are and can provide valuable advice about the submission and revision processes, as well as professional editing and consultations on how to make your work the best it can be. Contact us today to learn more about how we can be of assistance!