Re-framing Rejections by Denise St. Arnault, Ph.D. 2010. All rights reserved.
We all feel like rejection letters are, well, rejection. However, there is a huge opportunity in a rejection letter if we can “get over ourselves” and really “hear” what the reviewers are saying. Sometimes, they are commenting on the quality of our thinking, but usually, they are commenting about the quality of our argument, or how the argument fits into the field, or how important things are missing from the argument.
However, when we add the stuff that was missing, or position the argument differently, it can change the focus, making the article better for a different journal. Usually, when we change the paper, it makes it a lot better, and it also helps us really figure out what we mean and where we belong.
Here are an example: My dissertation was qualitative and quantitative. My first effort felt really good to me, but it was rejected because they said it was as if there were two articles in one…good feedback! So I broke it into two, and submitted a reworked qualitative paper. A different journal rejected that one because I didn’t argue for how this data contributed to the field. When I answered that question, I discovered it belonged in a different journal. After that re-write, it was accepted “as is!”
My final thought is, I always shoot for the top tier journals, and because of that, I get lots of rejections. However, what I also get is top tier reviews!! How cool is that?! Then, if I re-write, and find a slightly lower tier, I get in right away…an interesting trick.