Every rejection cloud has a silver lining

Getting your research rejected by a journal isn’t always a bad thing according to the editors of two leading respiratory journals.

At a breakfast session on Sunday morning deputy editor of The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Professor Fernando Martinez and Dr Peter Eastwood, the Editor-in-Chief of Respirology told delegates it was important to keep in mind that publishing was “the process of making our work better”.

The best thing a researcher could do when they’ve had their work rejected is to think about the reasons why, and analyse any  reviewer feedback with the rationale [and not emotional] part of the brain.

“At least two reviewers are going to look at your paper and they are not trying to take you down, they are trying to analyse critically what you have,” said Professor Martinez.

Review your review process

Respirology often receives ‘incredibly good papers’ that had clearly been through several rounds of rejection from other journals, Dr Eastwood told delegates.

“Papers improve with each reiteration but the lesson to learn there is that if you had of put the work in at the very outset you may have got it in the blue journal to start with” he said.

Professor Martinez and Dr Eastwood agreed that if researchers can embed a review into their own processes they can greatly improve their chances of getting published in their journal of choice.

“Do it right from the beginning, go through a process of initial review that allows somebody else who hasn’t been a part of the work to read it” advised Professor Martinez.

Shoot for gold but be realistic

Another critical factor that researchers need to think carefully about is the journal they’ve chosen to submit to.

“Shoot for gold. If you’ve done good work try and get your paper published in the best journal you can; but you have to be realistic” Dr Eastwood advised.

The journal has to match the standard and the depth of the work as well as be an appropriate avenue to reach the right individuals.

“Often we underestimate the advice from colleagues and supervisors as to what’s the most appropriate journal to go for” he said.

Focus and don’t meander

According to Professor Martinez researchers can increase their chances of success by ensuring that their paper has a couple of significant conclusions – preferably placed in the last sentence of the discussion and at the conclusions of the abstract.

“Try as much as you can in those two places to synthesize what you have done to the most essential ideas…if you do that you can go back to the paper and eliminate the things that are not really relevant,” he said.

“Don’t meander; go to exactly what you want to say in your paper,” he added.

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