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Advice for early career academic?


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Fuck! After some initial success with publications I have had a few recent set-backs (in a row) with respect to peer review of papers I have submitted. I know it's the nature of the game, and I'm always open to critique and identifying areas in need of improvement, but DAMN!

Nothing is more frustrating than months and months of work grinding to a halt. I esp. hate when reviewers comments are generally positive and when what they feel does have to be addressed is relatively minor...with ample room for the opportunity to respond/address their identified concerns, but you don't even get the chance to because the editor just flat-out rejects it anyways.

I know this is often a sign of sheer volume being submitted to the journal and obviously an easy way of 'weeding' things out but....grrrr.

So, I know there's a few on here that could possibly relate?

What strategies do you employ to help deal with the rejection? To give yourself the motivation to revise and resubmit? To find the time to go back to the drawing board on older material that needs/should be published while still keeping momentum with your current work? etc etc

Sometimes I feel like I should just pack it in and get a 'real' job ;)

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There were probably a dozen articles that I thought were worth publishing in peer-reviewed journals, and despite my best efforts, none ever made it. The maddening thing was that it would always take forever to get them back, at which point the material - in my own case, fairly topical - was a little past its best-before (which got me thinking, maybe I should have pursued journalism instead). In the end, all I ever got through the pipeline were some pieces in student journals (fwiw), and book reviews in the peer-reviewed ones. I thought for the longest time about working my dissertation into articles or a book, but again, given the nature of the material, it ended up being of little relevance (what's the point of talking about evangelicals before 9/11?).

The only practical advice I would give, then, is to keep your chin up and to keep at it (and to enjoy the conferences you present the material at in the meantime!). I just gave up a couple of years out of my program, I think in part out of spite at the whole "publish or perish" thing, and in part because I wanted to devote all my energies to teaching - which, at the college is level, is all that you're supposed to be doing. And I love it, really - wouldn't trade that for anything.

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i can empathise. one strategy that I've used over the past year is networking. I've managed to get 2 articles through the submission process with a 3rd one in teh final stages, but that has been helped a lot by working with colleagues. My former supervisor was editing a special edition of a journal and invited me to submit an article, then an organisation I work with in Ottawa wanted to put some stuff together. The advantage is that you get editors who have more flexibility, and are more willing to be patient if you need to work through revisions.

Getting co-workers has helped with the review of papers beofre they get submitted too. A big thing for avoiding let-down.

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it can be a shitty game that just doesn't make sense sometimes. we just had a paper accepted after a revise and resubmit to journal #1 resulting in rejection, followed by two revise and resubmits (one essentially a complete rewrite) resulting in an acceptance by journal #2. that was a long one. have had papers accepted with minor revisions right off the bat as well as others a couple of years after first submission due to very slow reviews or new editorial boards while it was in the pipe. you really can never tell what is going to happen a lot of the time. yeah, its a really good idea to present the paper at conferences and get feedback, especially what people think are your key or most interesting findings. which may not actually have been your intial questions, so be open and spin the paper that way when you first start writing it.

but when you do get a rejection, email the editor and thank him/her for his time, and that you are grateful for the reviewers comments and that they will help to improve the paper. period. he's the judge and jury as right or as wrong as he may be. its pissing into the wind to even get upset. so ... identify a couple more journals ... try ones in the same general theoretical area or in the same specific substantive area of reasearch. or, maybe just a identify a lesser jorunal in the field. (stay away from open access journals unless u have the money.) reframe the front end to suit the new journal. slant towards policy if policy journal, theoretical contributions if theory journal. then play the game again. or consider paring the paper down significantly and submit as a methological note, or brief. some jornals have 2-page briefs. and yeah, chin up. it's part of the game.

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Thanks folks. All good advice and encouraging as the 'strategies' are in line with what I have been doing. Just comforting to know i'm not alone, as the whole thing (even when actively 'networking') can be a little isolating. The whole academia thing really is an odd beast in many ways, but I 'think' it is the path for me...these set-backs definitely make me question myself though, and challenge my stamina.

The 'good' news I think is that my work trasncends many disciplinary boundaries, so there's no shortage of potential journals if I employ the right lens.

For the time being I'll just keep chippin' away I guess...

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