Jamal El Ouahi

Helping researchers. Posts about scientific research & its process. Academia/Government Consulting.

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Jamal El Ouahi

Helping researchers. Posts about scientific research & its process. Academia/Government Consulting.

#15 Dealing with rejection in Academia

Read time: 4 min.

Hey friends,

If your paper got rejected or you didn’t get the job you applied for, what do you do?

We all face rejection at some point in our careers.

It might be about academic manuscripts, grant applications, or job opportunities.

But there are several ways to handle rejection.

Here are some tips to handle rejection in scientific research and keep moving forward:

The Reality:

‘Good’ journals often have high rejection rates.

For instance, Nature and Science have rejection rates as high as 90%.

That’s the reality. And that helps to set your expectations right.  

Embrace Feedback:

Negative comments or rejections can be tough to digest, but they also offer valuable feedback.

Good peer reviewers would provide constructive feedback.

If not, simply contact the editor(s) in charge of your manuscript for more information if you feel your manuscript was not treated fairly.

Appeal the decision with solid arguments.

Your perspective can push editors to reconsider the reviewers’ recommendations and ask for detailed input.

Avoid denial

Writing a scientific manuscript is a long and tedious project.

You worked on the experiments for weeks if not months and you spent a lot of time to write, edit and revise the manuscript.

So, it’s easy to be emotionally attached to your work.

And it’s natural to deny the reviewers/editors decisions and think something like “Who do they think they are, criticizing my manuscript?”

Instead, focus on the constructive feedback you can get from the review process.

Manage Anger Positively:

Don’t take things personally.

Avoid getting angry about rejection, as it’s very common in academia.

Never express anger in emails to editors or reviewers, as it can leave a negative impression.

This won’t help you as you might submit another manuscript to the same journal.

So always stay professional, leave a positive impression when communicating with journals, editors, and peer reviewers.

Acceptance and Resubmission:

Take some time to digest the rejection decision.

Time helps to accept the rejection.

Then move forward. Take into account the feedback in your work.

And submit your work to a different journal, perhaps one more specialized.

Stay Positive:

Remember, rejection doesn’t define your worth as a researcher.

Stay positive. Always.

Learn from the experience, and push for excellence in your work.

That’s it. This is my way of managing rejection. I see it as just a step toward success.

Take the useful comments on your work that this review process has generated and move on.

As usual, if anything is unclear or if you need help with your research projects please contact me and I will reply.

See you in the next newsletter!


Question of the Week

What else would you do to manage rejection from editors, reviewers etc.?

Share with us your advice and experiences in the comments section!

My favorite things this week

  1. I had the opportunity to speak with researchers and librarians from Ghana. Interacting with researchers from different parts of the world is something I enjoy a lot. I see many common challenges researchers face worldwide, but also many interesting local specificities (different research systems, local issues and interests etc.).
  2. I’m currently working on redesigning my website with more free materials. More to come soon.

Quote of the Week

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
– Winston Churchill

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