Tuesday, October 3
I got a rejection letter today. It's not my first, and it won't be my last.

My main complaint about reviewers continues to be that there are so many who clearly don't read the paper. To make matters worse, I think that the people who are least likely to read the paper are often higher status individuals whose reviews editors weight more heavily (particularly if the editor, who has a lot on their plate, didn't read the paper carefully themselves).

That's not today's gripe, though. I'll save it for another day.

This wasn't my first rejection of this particular paper. In the previous round of reviews (from Journal A in the specialty area of Politics of Primates) I got, "This research is an example of a much larger and more interesting phenomenon, focus on that." So I did when I reframed the paper. This time I got (from Journal B in the same specialty area), "This research claims to be looking at this much larger phenomenon, but what's more interesting is the specific example that it highlights."

Argh. Why couldn't I have had those same reviewers that second time around? Or even better, that second set the first time around? How do you decide whether you cater to those reviewers before you send it out again, or if you just send the same thing out and hope that it doesn't go to the same person? This is a game I haven't learned to play yet.


Navy Blue Blob said...

Oh Fraud, so sorry to hear about this! I wish I had a solution for you. I think even senior people with considerable experience in this realm wouldn't know what to tell you. This aspect of academia, while incredibly important, is also incredibly messed up. And to think that entire careers (and that's not an exaggeration) make or break on the stupid uninformed reviews of just one or two people is downright depressing. (After all, if you get that one paper in just before you go on the job market, it can determine where you get your first job, which I'm sure can have serious implications for the rest of one's career.)

I don't think this will help in this case, but one possibility people don't often employ (I never have), but could be helpful depending on the right circumstances (particular editor) may be to write a note to the editor in the submission letter mentioning that you request the paper not be sent to reviewer type A, because such reviewer seems to exhibit an outright bias (phrased very professionally of course). Unless the editor is an AH, they may take that into consideration.

Of course, the problem in your case now is that the issue is not about one subdiscipline fighting against another or some such thing. I really have no idea what I would do. Is it possible to do neither.. neither present the large or the small as the focus, but just present as a more general example? (I'm sort of laughing/crying as I write that recognizing how ridiculous it is given that I know nothing about your paper, or probably your entire field.)