The fear of getting rejected by good academic journals is a legitimate fear. This is because you create a chance to get a rejection any time you make a submission. Getting a rejection from an academic journal is not a bad thing but getting a perpetual rejection could be a sign that something fundamental is wrong. It calls for a detachment from the paper to reflect on the whole circumstances of the research and your writing skills. Frankly, rejection could be discouraging or even fatal to the overall motivation to continue the research. This is why developing the resilience and the skills to reconstruct a research paper is a desirable skill for researchers, academics or those who intend to publish in peer-reviewed platforms. In this series, I will discuss how to develope the skills to reconstruct a rejected research paper so that it can get a chance for acceptance.
First of all, understand that the writing process is part of the research process. When what you have written is reviewed by experts in your field, the research process gets even better. So, writing up your results and passing it through the peer-reviewed process is good for your research. This should be a mindset.
The second thing to note is that feedback should not be taken personal. This is because the review process could be brutal at times. Focus should be on extracting the substance in the feedback. However, not all feedbacks should be absorbed. Some should be rebutted while you may simply need to clarify or substantiate any idea that appears obscure to the reviewers. Ideas that confuse the reviewers may likely confuse your readers. Because writing is a creative process, we may not come through with the exact message even with several personal revisions untill someone else criticise the shape and form of the idea. The intention of writing research papers is not to confuse but to communicate findings. So, appreciate feedbacks that force you to think deeper and clearer.
The third suggestion is developing fluidity in thinking. Academic papers are arguments backed with provable evidences generated from open methodologies. Convincing experts that the new evidence generated in their field should be absorbed into the mainstream thinking is not a task to be taken lightly. Fluidity is therefore required to adapt to the review process as the new idea is being examined. Here, fluidity is the ability to reflect, regenerate and represent results and reconduct literature search to accommodate new thinking and insights from the review process. This is probably the main reason while I encourage students or researchers to publish their results while they are studying. The feedback may require you to perform extra experiment or regenerate data in a different way or replot the visuals. Given that some of the pieces of equipment and software used are specialized, you may not have access once you graduate. Making hay while the sun shines is writing your papers as you are conducting the research.
I will continue with the nitty-gritty of how to reconstruct a rejected scientific paper in the subsequent series. What I want to highlight now is that getting a rejection is part of the peer-review process. Perhaps, one day in the future, you may look back and thank good journals for rejecting your paper because it became better after reconstruction.