What do I do when my article gets rejected or I get a revise and resubmit?

A colleague just asked something about getting a revise and resubmit answer to an article submission.  This is something I am asked fairly often so I thought it might be a good time to post my advice about this for others who might want to know what to do.

A revise and resubmit can be a good thing, after all it is not an outright rejection and hold on for a minute, there might be some ideas from the reviewer that will actually make your article better. Even a rejection can serve this purpose.

That said, take the time to mourn the rejection of  your  “research child” and get over any anger at insensitve comments. (Yes,  some reviewers can be cruel, ignorant and down right mean, in the best of worlds that would not be allowed but for some reason there are people who can’t seem to be courteous and focus on constructive criticism. You have right to be angry at them but don’t let that spoil your good work.) You have spent a lot of time on this article/presentation and you have nutured it from the time it was a baby idea, growing it in your brain, revising it based on your discussions with people and your experiences. You have good product, look at this as an opportunity to make it even better!

What you need to do next is, once you have taken time to grieve and vent,  reread their suggestions and implement them as you need to.  Sometimes they are more minor than they appeared when you read them the first time. No matter how complex, work through them and see how you can address them making the appropriate changes.  If there is something they totally didn’t get and you are right, contact the editor and ask them how to handle it. (Like the time a reviewer who told me my subject size was too small on a qualitative project when it was actually appropriate.)

Once you are done, have someone else read the article (good advice for anyone before you send anything out-it doesn’t need to be an expert in the field, someone you know like a friend, spouse, partner, any colleague can do it because they can tell you if what you wrote actually makes sense and they may even catch grammar or punctuation mistakes).

All done with these things… RESUBMIT it (or submit it to another venue if it was a rejection or if  you have found out something negative about the acceptance policies of the current journal).

Then… consign its fate to the universe, know that you did your best work, kick back, have your favorite beverage, go play with your kids, animals, do something fun with a partner, spouse, friend or by yourself and forget about it until they contact you again (most likely with an acceptance)!


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