Have you ever struggled to write up your results into a publishable paper only to get it rejected? Richard Threlfall, Managing Editor, Asian Journal of Organic Chemistry, gives some insider tips on what to do if your paper is rejected and how to handle comments from referees.
There are some estimates that say one peer review would cost hundreds of dollars if referees were paid, professional consultants. They are not. Reviewers volunteer to help improve the quality, scientific content, and readability of your manuscript, which makes the peer-review process equivalent to getting thousands of dollars’ worth of valuable information from extremely experienced people for free. Therefore, it’s up to you to make the most of it. Whatever the outcome of the peer-review process there is a chance to improve your paper afterwards, so don’t ignore it.
First, we’ll talk about rejection. It’s not nice but it happens to everyone.
You will receive a list of comments from the referees who have reviewed your paper. Don’t just ignore these comments and submit the manuscript without changing it to another journal because one of two things is going to happen.
- The next journal sends your paper to different referees but it comes back with similar comments and the paper is rejected again.
- The next journal coincidentally sends the paper to the same referees as the first journal and the referees see that their time was wasted the first time round because you took no notice of their comments. They will instantly recommend rejecting it again.
In both cases you just waste your own and everyone else’s time and your paper still doesn’t get published anyway. It is better to take the time to really think about the referees’ comments and revise your manuscript before you resubmit it to a different journal.
Frequently, referees will give a short list of a few examples of things that need to be looked at or corrected. In this case, don’t just correct these few examples, but consider the comments in the broadest sense and check through yourself to see what else you can improve. That way you have a much better chance of getting your manuscript accepted next time because it will simply be better science.
- Next month: We’ll discuss what to do if you think you’ve been treated unfairly during the review process.
- See all Tips for Writing Better Science Papers