How To Use and Reply to Journal Editor and Reviewer Suggestions
What To Do When the Revisions Requested Will Compromise Your Scholarship
No scholar would deny that an academic or scientific author goes through a less than pleasant experience when an article submitted to a scholarly journal fails to be accepted for publication. Sometimes a piece of work is simply the wrong fit, in which case submitting the document to a different journal is the answer, although the format may need to be adjusted slightly to meet the new guidelines. At other times the author instructions have not been followed carefully enough or the language of the paper is unclear, awkward or contains too many errors of grammar, spelling and punctuation. These problems will require a little more effort, but can also be resolved relatively easily, particularly if the author engages the services of a professional proofreader or editor.
Increase Your Chances of Getting Published
When, on the other hand, an editor’s rejection is based on criticism of the content – the research, methods, findings, conclusions, implications and the like recorded in the text – the author is faced with a much more difficult and challenging situation. It is essential not to make snap decisions when news of this kind arrives. Allowing yourself time to absorb and accept the information both emotionally and intellectually is necessary, and successfully surmounting the emotional hurdle will facilitate more effective negotiation of the intellectual challenges. Consulting a trusted colleague or mentor who knows your subject area well and has publishing experience is very wise. The input you receive will help you view your own work more objectively, and as much objectivity as possible is vital.
If the editor and peer reviewers who have assessed your article have also bothered to give you detailed commentary, it is a sign that the journal is interested in your research and has already invested considerable time and energy in it. That alone is a good reason to consider the criticism seriously and make the suggested changes if possible. Not all criticism is constructive, however, and not all the changes suggested by even the most qualified reviewers will actually result in improvements. It is entirely possible that upon reflection you will decide that you simply cannot accommodate all the suggestions without compromising the integrity of your research and analysis.
If this turns out to be the case and you still wish to publish your paper in that journal, it is best to make as many of the desired changes as you feel you can. When you explain these changes to the editor, it will be clear that you have made a sincere effort to accommodate the journal’s needs, and the news that you will not be able to make all of the changes will probably be received more positively. Be sure to explain exactly why you cannot make certain changes, being specific about each point and why it is so important, and it might also be helpful to suggest that your article will in fact suit the journal better and contribute more effectively to the advancement of knowledge by remaining as it is with regard to those points. This strategy has been known to work, so it is certainly worth a try, but if it is unsuccessful, you can still use the criticism you received to improve your paper and increase its chances of successful publication when you submit it to a different journal.
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