My latest rejection and what I’m doing about it

Earlier this week I received an email from a journal editor. He wrote that he had read my paper but had decided not to send it out to reviewers. He then actually gave quite a long account of why he had made this decision.


Aware that on this blog, and in many workshops, I encourage people to be open about rejection, here goes.

Why was it rejected? I got what Pat Thomson has written about: Early Onset Satisfaction (an idea originally from Mem Fox). I had been encouraged by my research mentor to get out of my comfort zone and aim super-high – for one of the top three or four education journals by impact factor.

I had a major analytical breakthrough when I was in Sweden in September, and got really excited about some new ideas. I was up late typing frantically, and then took the emerging ideas to another research group. They seemed to be holding up. It wasn’t long (enough) before I sent the paper off.

I knew it was a gamble, but I thought at least I’d gone through with the submission, and I might get some good feedback. One thing I did want to figure out was how a journal like that one (which shall remain nameless) would respond to my kind of topic and my approach to research.

In a way, and with the benefit of a few days to mull it over, I feel pretty good about it. Since submitting the paper, the analysis has progressed further, and I would want to make some pretty major changes anyway. Furthermore, what the editor wrote to me was super-useful. I found out my topic isn’t the problem for that journal, but that the analysis I presented was too descriptive and too focused on one small (but very interesting and informative) part of my data.

Now I’ve got time to update the paper, refresh the argument with the latest outcomes of my analysis, and locate it in a slightly more focused scholarly discussion.

Wounded? Not really. Scratched, maybe. Sore? No. Keen to get stuck into the re-writing? Yup.

I wrote back to the editor and thanked him for the really helpful email. Then I went to another journal that I’d had in mind and downloaded a bunch of papers that form part of the conversation in that journal that I will be joining with my new, better, submission.

Will this one even be sent for review? Watch this space…

6 thoughts on “My latest rejection and what I’m doing about it

  1. pgmpblog

    Thanks Nick, I certainly shall… (watch this space! ). I’m glad you posted…quite timely on the back of my second consecutive rejection (same *journal -I must enjoy this stuff)..*also High impact too for my area… this time it didn’t even get past the editor-so no reviewers comments to learn from. I did get (another) encouraging letter but this time suggested I transfer to another journal (in their publishing group) offering suggestions I never would have chosen and still feel are ill fitting…but what would I know? Might give expert opinion a go…watch that space! 😊 PP

  2. Teena Clerke

    bummer! but thank you for sharing this with us all – this is rarely done as you know, and we all think it only happens to us!

    Dr Teena Clerke

    Research Associate Faculty of Arts and Social Science University of Technology, Sydney

    0414 502 648 ________________________________

  3. Mwizbex

    I sent my dissertation to one journal and it got rejected…. I felt sad as it was my first attempt I wish I had feedback on wat I should have done better though.

    1. nickhopwood Post author

      Hi Mwizbex.
      Frustrating isn’t it? But welcome to the club of illustrious, hard working people with good ideas who have had papers rejected! It’s a shame you didn’t get useful feedback. I’m curious when you say you ‘sent your dissertation’ to a journal – I presume you mean you re-worked it into a paper that matches the scope and focus of the journal and makes one clear point in relation to an ongoing conversation in that journal? (I ask because a couple of times I’ve actually been sent what is clearly a dissertation that hasn’t been reworked into a specific paper, and they would nearly always be rejected)…

      1. Mwizbex

        Ah ok… No I will admit I didn’t was my first time and really did not read up.. So I guess I do know. My error.. Will re work it

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