Is it normal to feel like this about submission and potential rejection?

(14 Posts)
ooglyboo Fri 07-Dec-18 14:54:41

I think I need to wo/man-up.

Background to this is that I have taken a back seat on writing for a little while. I've done loads of other stuff, on impact especially, and have developed quite a good reputation in my field (especially non-academic audience). Including occasional radio and TV and that sort of stuff. But I've not been writing and I've realised it's because I am so bloody fearful of rejection and the pain(!) that comes with it.

I've now got two papers ready for submission and I'm irrationally terrified. I know I should just hit go but can't quite bring myself to do so - rejection rates are running at about 95% in top journals in my field, guess it's similar elsewhere too. I NEED to publish now, it's running tight for the REF, but if I send these out and they get rejected then I'm back to square one.

Not looking for advice really ... more empathy or tough love! Anyone else feel fearful too?

OP’s posts: |
ommmward Fri 07-Dec-18 20:24:02

I can offer tough love.

Aim high. Send it to the best journal you think might publish it. Expect them to reject it, but the reasons they give you for the rejection should give you the information you need to revise it ready to send to the next journal down on your list. Treat it as the anonymous peer feedback that it is. Nobody is out to get you personally - they shouldn't know who you are, even - but they want the same thing as you do, which is to get your work into the right shape it needs to be publishable.

The quicker you hit "send", the quicker you can get the information you need to get revising it for submission 2 to the next journal down.

MedSchoolRat Fri 07-Dec-18 20:44:38

I want to be helpful.
You're being daft (but I think you know that).
I am water-off-duck's back when it comes to rejections. As long as they are pretty quick about it, Not bothered at all. As long as I can find somewhere else to submit it, anyway.
Have you sent a pre-subm query to the editors? Send them abstract and ask if they are interested? Since you're tight on time, this can save a week or 2 if they tell you quickly they don't want it.
Try to choose journals that quickly decide whether to send items out to review, so if you get rejected, it's done quickly. Lancet/NEJM are famous for their 20 minute decisions to reject.

Sometimes you openly can even use reviews (that rejected you) from one journal when submitting to another journal. It's so difficult to find reviewers, that editors may appreciate that (you submit comments & responses as not-for-reviewer materials). But I admit this is only a strategy when you don't know where else to send it.

Do you need to publish open-access, do you have ££ for Open Access Charges? I am getting really good at using SherpaRomeo, think that is my new found love, finding green-access places to send things.

Make a note in your diary to ask about reviews about 12 weeks after submission, so it doesn't dangle forgotten for ages.

Booboostwo Fri 07-Dec-18 21:51:04

I feel exactly like you. The rejections are awful.

Try writing a list of journals your paper could go to. As soon as the first journal rejects it, cross it out from your list and send your paper to the next one (assuming there are no useful comments from reviewers). This helps me a little bit.

bigkidsdidit Sat 08-Dec-18 19:27:39

Why is it tight for REF? Isn't that in 2021? I am planning a couple of papers next year to pick up my ref game. You've got me worried!

I am also like you, what makes it worse for me is that my papers usually have 10+ authors including big wigs in the department so rejection emails go to them too which I find so humiliating. My last paper was rejected 8 times (still ended up being 4* though we think). I loathe the whole process, so I sympathise - but you just need to do it.

MedSchoolRat Sat 08-Dec-18 21:29:49

Is this right?
I read that submission deadline for REF2021 is November 2020.

~3 months to receive first reviewer comments, 2-6 weeks for revisions, 2-6 weeks for journal to decide to accept (hopefully), 2-4 months for item to come out.

Knocked back 3-4 months each time article is rejected outright.
Working backwards, January 2020 could be the latest time to submit with REF2021 in mind, but October 2019 would be more prudent.

bigkidsdidit Sat 08-Dec-18 21:36:08

Huh. I'd better get my skates on <panic>

ooglyboo Fri 14-Dec-18 12:43:07

Thanks so much for responding everybody. I haven't replied until now as I have been DEEP in writing and I think am about to hit send on a paper. Wish it luck!! I think it might need it but I have taken on board the advice here and I already know what journal I will send it to next. Thanks again!

OP’s posts: |
ooglyboo Tue 26-Mar-19 10:18:39

Hmmm. So the paper I submitted in December has come back with a big fat rejection. And a couple of quite brutal reviews. I am so utterly demoralised. It would be less difficult if I could get anything published! But I don't seem to be able to. I am seriously wondering if this is the career for me after all these years ... but I don't want to do anything else! Aaaaargh. Sorry. Rant.

OP’s posts: |
CleverKnot Tue 26-Mar-19 19:39:42

How fair do the reject comments look, Oogly? Is it stuff you can revise?
Chin up. You can do this. You only need one journal to accept it.

AcceptAcceptAccept Tue 26-Mar-19 23:51:40

Hi ooglyboo,

We chatted on the other thread today (I just name-changed again as a commitment to being more positive & not letting myself get sucked into a vortex of misery). We have had a similar day :-)

Rationally of course we already know what to do - make a list of journals, redraft the paper, send it back out. But we're human beings and feel like we've been kicked in the chest by a shire horse.

So I went out for the evening and it has somehow taken the sting out of the rejection. My partner was urging me earlier not to complain to the editor but to sleep on it. I insisted that I was justified and even if I slept on it would send it anyway (it's a masterpiece of passive aggression). But being out, around nice people, and taking a break from working from home has worked wonders. Enough that I can say that I have had six rejects in a row and nevertheless know that my work is good and deserves to be out there :-)

I'm lucky that my hobby is very cheap and very sociable. But whatever it is try and do something that isn't work that makes you feel good.

ooglyboo Wed 27-Mar-19 09:02:46

Thank you clever and accept (much better name)!

Yes, I do know what to do. The comments are in fact helpful and to an extent I can see where I went wrong. In fact, one reviewer is clearly on my side (I actually wonder whether they know me).

I just have these feelings of humiliation and shame and imposter syndrome. I know that the journal that rejected my paper is accepting only about five maybe ten per cent of papers right now. So I'm with the 90%. I actually love this job - if ONLY I could bloody get something published! But it is partly a numbers and persistence game .. isn't it? Or not? I hope so.

Chin-up as you say.

OP’s posts: |
AcceptAcceptAccept Wed 27-Mar-19 13:04:58

Numbers and persistence and networks and nerve.

And it helps to be better at asking explicitly. It was an eye-opener when a co-author emailed a journal editor directly to ask if a paper would be in scope and of potential interest. Which is partly why I'm so annoyed with myself for a six-week desk reject; should have taken better care to manage that risk.

I'm also bad at just getting papers out rather than refusing to give up on getting into an excellent journal worthy of my talents grin

CleverKnot Wed 27-Mar-19 19:33:14

Awww.. don't feel ashamed.
Mostly Because, , we all fuck up. Only the deluded don't realise that. It's liberating when you learn to accept it & take every setback as opportunity to learn to do better.

So many journals I submit to, it feels like a major success to even get article sent out to review. I could seriously celebrate with cake every time item not rejected within 2 days. Sounds like you got over that hurdle fine, so there's potential in your ideas. Just need development.

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