It happened. I got rejected. Flat out, on my ass rejected. From a journal. With a resounding “hell no” from all three reviewers.
How to handle? Ice cream. Wine.
How to respond? Get back in the saddle and get writing.
It just so happened that when I forwarded the reviewer comments to my co-authors, one replied with the word “ouch” as well. It always hurts. Whether you’re a new faculty like me or a seasoned veteran (like one of my c0-authors), getting flat-out rejected is kind of like getting kick in the shin by a small child when you weren’t expecting it.
However, here’s the big idea: rejection happens in academia.
I’d been very lucky. I’d gone four years without a single manuscript rejection so I knew I was running on borrowed time. If I get anymore this year, my tiny ego might actually need some melted cheese, but I can handle anything else, even if it’s rejected but make edits and we’ll accept it. I’m not a perfect researcher, it’s an impossible goal, but I know I can always get better. That’s the goal, to get better.
So, while I’d like to give you some resounding nugget of advice here, the best I can do is tell you to try not to get too sensitive about it, read the comments, find the good things, and move forward.
My positive comments were about my APA citations, something I had been working on, and the tightness of my writing. Both things that I work hard at. The things they didn’t like can be fixed for future submissions. Maybe the data wasn’t appropriate for their scope, maybe I did do it all wrong, but I can’t keep crying over that spilled milk, especially when there’s two more manuscripts on my desk that need to go out before classes begin.
Cheer up! The old saying may be “publish or perish” but I haven’t died yet, just put one manuscript to bed. FOREVER!!