Hi everyone, just wanted to post because I'm having a pretty awful day. My first publication is out for peer review and I just got an email (not directly but to a shared email) saying it needs substantial revision and that she will need more time to complete comments. I'm totally humiliated as the two peer reviewers are people whose opinion I care about and one is a potential external. I'm also really confused as the paper was readby two colleagues and a third in a slightly different field. My supervisor said it was an excellent paper and an important contribution to the knowledge of the field. He has also been checking my thesis chapters and says they are all good - but if he misjudged this article so vastly how can I trust him on my thesis. Really want to quit right now :-(
don't give up! When you submit papers you must always expect really harsh comments from some reviewers, either for political reasons (ie you are a competitor in the field), because the person didn't understand the paper or simply the person did not like the approach at all. There will hardly ever be papers that multiple reviewers have the same postive stance towards. Try to see it positive - if you get critical comments now, you can adress them in your thesis and in case that person becomes your external you already know what kind of weaknesses that person thinks your thesis has. Again, you can adress that upfront and think about possible explanations.
I used to shed a tear or two when i got really harsh comments, but by now, i see the value in them. The more critical the comments, the more it makes you think about your work. Hard, but in the end it is invaluable feedback for you. Just dont take it personally!
I'm in a very similar position. My draft papers is being reviewed prior to submission and although my supervisor loves it the next commentator totally ripped it apart. I couldn't help but think - what if that had been my (upcoming) viva? After some consideration I think I can see how to incorporate both views and will redraft the paper before sending it too the other too commentators.
I try to think of it this way. I look on the draft paper process as the best possible preparation for my viva. I've now had what I think (I hope!) is the worst that can be thrown at me and I have a little time to prepare my responses if these criticisms do re-occur in the viva. But they might not - as clearly people have very different views on the issues.
Chin up - and use this experience as I am. I was really very down for a while though, after the Ripping Apart. Talk to your supervisor about these comments and get his reaction.
Of course if I redraft and get another Ripping Apart I'll be back here begging for tea and sympathy;-)
Hello everyone, thought I'd update you. I got some of the comments from the reviewer - and its not as bad as the first email implied. Its mainly to do with style (strangely enough encouragment to be less formal :-/) and described as good work. Not great but better than I thought!
That sounds pretty good to me - they said it was good work. As someone else said, at least now you have a better idea of what your externals look for: ie, a less formal writing style. Good luck.
I just got my first (ever) article back from the peer reviewers - one said it wasn't bad, but the other totally ripped it to shreds so that's put a downer on things :-( It's been accepted though, provided I make a bunch of changes so that's some good news. It was based on a condensed version of my MSc that my supervisor said was really good, so I guess opinions can vary massively.
Slightly worried now though - I'm starting a PhD in a couple of months and starting to wonder if I've got what it takes...
It's a punch in the sensitive region isn't it? I got a paper knocked back a couple of weeks ago and it hurts. All three of my sups and our best post-doc thought it was great, but the journal just didn't agree. I say kudos for having the guts to submit in the first place and don't be too hard on yourself.
As for why, it doesn't automatically mean that your writing is troubled, nor that your supervisor has bad judgement, there's a lot of luck in all this too. Journals quite frequently change their criteria for studies, they have issue themes that they like everything to fit with, and sometimes you and the reviewer just don't agree. Has your supervisor had other students complete their studies in the past? If so, I'd chalk it up to a crappy experience with the reviewers (who, let us remember, are basically the competition) and maybe some hints you can take before its too late in the day to revise your writing.
Maybe you could submit elsewhere with a different list of suggested reviewers as well?
Yes, totally understand how you feel, similar has happened to me. My paper wasn't rejected, it was accepted in fact, then a new editor came on board and totally ripped it apart. Said he'd still accept it if I essentially rewrote the entire thing (again! After had done so for the reviewers, who were happy with my changes). Like others, I was devastated and cried for days. I've since decided to put this article aside and concentrate on my thesis. This has also made me decide that I don't want to work in academia - too much unpaid work, too much criticism, and not enough rewards.
Which is all pretty negative and won't help you! Keep in mind that writing a journal article is very different to writing a thesis. While the comments that reviewers make will be useful in shaping the PhD, your thesis does not have to be at the level of writing a journal article. The thesis will also be in your style - you won't have to rewrite the whole thing for some editor with politics/power issues. You'll have to rewrite it until your supervisor's happy, but not to placate an OTT editor. You'll be fine doing a PhD, and it will give you lots more writing experience which will help if you do write other articles.
Thanks guys :)
Not feeling quite so rubbish now since I know I was put into a complete no-win situation. I was writing for a conference publication, biosciences for humanities students - and was told under no uncertain terms by the editor not to dumb any of the science down. So I did as I was told, and his reason for rejecting the paper was that it was 'too complicated'!! He sent it to a third peer reviewer, after it had been accepted by the first two - without telling me - to justify his decision. I've heard that this is actually pretty bad form from an editorial point of view, so now I know I'm not the one with the problem.
Developing a thicker skin for this stuff now...
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