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I don’t have any particular point, just wanted to write the sting away.

Today in my email I found:

1) The decision on a paper I submitted over the summer: Reject. I knew it was a bit of a long shot with this journal, but I am discouraged to have to start the whole process over again.

2) The decision on a paper I’d reviewed. (Sometimes editors of journals copy the reviewers so they know what happened, sometimes not.) I’d given it a critical but positive review (these hideous flaws are fixable), but it had been rejected. I felt sad for the authors. They must be discouraged.

I wish this news had come next week, when I’d be nice and distracted. On the other hand, rejection and Fucking Depressed don’t mix well, so perhaps I should be grateful. And I find myself raising my fists to the heavens and wailing What the hell does it take to get a paper published in my field anymore?*

It’s been almost 10 years since I became a professor. Sometimes I think that Kids Today Have it so Easy, but mostly I think the bar is higher than it was in my day. My more senior colleagues would probably agree: None of us would be hired today. Maybe it’s good thing if standards and expectations continue to rise, but maybe the pressure will lead to crappier research. I guess I can continue pushing for a few more years until I go up for promotion, then get a sofa for my office and spend the rest of my days lazing about and contemplating it all from a safe distance.



*A: In my case, stop submitting to the top journals in my field and aim a little lower… Never fear, I’ve got a couple more in the pipeline that may fare better… And stop doing only experimental work, because experiments take a thousand years and always have flaws that are much more apparent to reviewers than all the things that are solid and took enormous effort. Time for some theoretical and descriptive work!

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oh, hugs. Rejection, whichever side of the desk you’re on, is NO FUN.

    October 14, 2015
  2. SRB #

    What an interesting juxtaposition. What I love about you is that you feel for the authors of the paper you had reviewed, because you are a human being.

    I am a firm believer that a higher bar results in better outcomes, even if they never *quite* reach up to the bar. I suspect your bar for yourself is very high. I am interested in what comes down this pipeline you speak of as MAYBE I sometimes stalk you and read your papers. Reminds me of a simpler time, when I had thoughts and such. When your brain congeals after being soup for a while, you will do many more great works.

    October 14, 2015
  3. If you’re not rejected from time to time, you’re not aiming high enough.

    Still, I hope I don’t get any rejections this week. I hope any and all referee decisions can wait another few weeks until I have some time to process.

    October 15, 2015
  4. Well, hey. The good news is in a week, you’ll lack the cognitive capacity to TRULY feel the sting.

    Uh, or something like that. I hate rejection and have engineered my life to minimize it. This is a stupid way to live. Good for you for doing better.

    October 15, 2015
  5. I sympathize with the rejection and I have no doubt that your work deserves the mark of recognition that the prestigious journals provide but my idealistic side hates that game. I wish everyone would aim a little “lower” both in an attempt to avoid the cycles of rejection and as a way of flipping the bird at the whole thing. But you shouldn’t listen to a dropout on such matters.

    October 15, 2015
  6. Ugh. I really like what nicoleandmaggie said – if you’re not being rejected, you’re not aiming high enough. I have no doubt that you do stellar and elegant work. And you will do more.

    October 15, 2015

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