Abbey Road …. if The Beatles had been deterred by rejection….
Dick Rowe went to his grave known as ‘The Man Who Turned Down The Beatles’ after they’d auditioned for him at Decca Records. It’s fair to say the rejection didn’t really hold them back. And the same happens in our field…..Peter Higgs, 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics and Rosalyn Yallow 1977 Nobel Prize in Medicine are among many notable names to have their research articles rejected at one time or another.
And only a few months ago Dr Peter Ratcliffe along with William Kaelin Jr. and Gregg Semenza were announced as the winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their pioneering research into how human cells respond to changing oxygen levels.
However, a 27-year-old letter currently being circulated on the internet reveals that Ratcliffe’s award-winning study on cells and their adaptability to oxygen, was rejected for publication by Nature in 1992.
All the conpher team, yes all – and some of them consider themselves quite brilliant (!) – have had submitted articles rejected.
Failure is success if we learn from it”Malcolm Forbes
A recently published paper in the journal Physics and Society shows evidence that scientists who suffer setbacks early in their career perform better in their careers than others.
The authors, Yang Wang, Benjamin Jones and Dashun Wang, looked at the data on grant proposals made by junior scientists applying for funds from the US National Institutes of Health. They identified two groups: “near-miss” individuals, whose grant proposals fell just below the funding threshold, and “near-win” individuals, who scraped in just above the threshold.
Childhood setbacks may have a similar effect on the arc of a life. The psychologist Marvin Eisenstadt, in a study entitled Parental Loss and Achievement, found that from a random sample of 573 eminent people who merited more than one column in encyclopaedias, nearly half had had a parent die before they were 20. Nobody would wish the loss of a parent on any child. It means a higher risk of mental health problems later in life. But it’s also true that a surprising number of high-achievers have suffered bereavement or some other kind of trauma as children.
And we circle back to……three of four members of the Beatles all experienced major setbacks early in life. A surprising number of high achievers experienced bereavement at a young age.
So to help you avoid the inevitable….the conpher team have pulled together all the advice we have received with regards to preparing our article for publication and we would like to share that with you.
conpher team shares their tips to avoid rejection
None of the below is revolutionary or the golden ticket to acceptance but it will help to keep all of these thoughts in mind.
- Select the right journal for your article.
It may sound obvious, but the number of times articles are rejected because they do not fall under the aims and scope of the journal. So how can you avoid this happening? Do you know the journal you are submitting to? Have you read the journal yourself and recognised research which associates with your work? You can reach out to the editor with a pre-submission query to confirm your research is of interest to the journal.
2. Take a final look at your article with fresh eyes.
Academic publishing is an iterative process. Manuscripts are written, revised, and edited several times. So, before submission, read your own article, and even better, get friends and colleagues to read it. You may have the research mastered, but you may find you have obscured its delivery or complicated its message. Approach your own article as a reviewer and if you share it with colleagues, take all their positive and negative criticism on board. There is no harm at this stage and will hopefully save you time in the publication process, avoiding redrafts or even rejection and re-submission.
This final re-read will also help you check basics such as language errors. And it can confirm to you that your article is complete (it may lack a title, authors, affiliations, keywords, main text, references and all tables and figures). And please cross reference the format required by the journal. These instructions will be displayed in the Guidelines to Authors section on each journal homepage.
Having read your article, do any of the following apply to your article? They are all reasons for rejection. If you feel your work fails to overcome any of them, please consider how you can edit your article to avoid that dreaded rejection.
- The article contains observations but is not a full study.
- It discusses findings in relation to some of the work in the field but ignores other important work.
- The procedures and/or analysis of the data is seen to be defective.
- The study lacked clear control groups or other comparison metrics.
- The study did not conform to recognized procedures or methodology that can be repeated.
- The analysis is not statistically valid or does not follow the norms of the field.
- The conclusions cannot be justified on the basis of the rest of the paper.
- The conclusions ignore large portions of the literature.
- Findings are incremental and do not advance the field.
- It’s boring.
So now, you have really done everything in your power to succeed.
3. One final action – Get your cover letter right.
One of the first items a journal editor will examine upon submission is the cover letter. So, it is vital for that first impression to be a good one. A well written letter which highlights the significance and strengths of your research as well as providing a good reason why the article fits the journal is essential.
And now it is in the editor’s hands. Be prepared to work with them. Contrary to popular belief, editors want you to succeed and be accepted. Of course, they cannot accept all papers, but by following the advice above, you have made it harder for them to reject you. And if the review process generates suggestions, be willing to revise the manuscript to address those points. If the editor indicates willingness to evaluate a revision, it means the manuscript may be publishable if the reviewers’ concerns could be addressed satisfactorily.
And if all else fails, submit your article on the correct day!