Academic papers do not get written in one night. They have to be written multiple times, revised and edited countless times to get all your academic juices flowing in just the right direction. Evidence suggests that 21% of papers are rejected without review and apparently 40% of papers are rejected after peer review.

Rejection happens to the best of us but it can be a learning experience. Don’t rip your letter to shreds or in case you receive a rejection e-mail, don’t throw the computer to the ground. Don’t get heartbroken and vow to never write another paper. And this is the case for even the most seasoned researchers. Experienced researchers face rejection for their papers even after their credibility and expertise has been established. Therefore, we suggest that researchers should focus not on avoiding rejection but on what their options are after rejection.

#1 Deal With Your Feelings

Rejection is never is easy to deal with, and is particularly hard at the beginning of your career. It’s best if you identify your emotions and employ the most wholesome best coping mechanisms: relaxing with a cup of hot beverage and music, calling your best friend and getting a hug from your kids, or your dog. This will put you in a calm state of mind and help you rationally evaluate your rejection.

#2 Read the Rejection Letter

Read the rejection letter carefully. Don’t skim or only read the subject line. All of your queries are usually answered in the rejection letter itself and it’s surprising how many authors direct questions to their friends or teachers that have already been answered in the letter itself. The number of submissions to journals are on the rise and this directly reflects on the rejection of more papers internally, without external peer review.

In an article flush like this, journal editors review the paper and determine the relevance for the journal audience, checking whether they are on par with the recent publications or upcoming accepted papers and the overall quality of the journal. Journal papers that do not pass this initial filter tend to get rejected without any further review. Review the rejection comments because they provide the next steps to re-submitting your paper.

Papers that pass the initial filter are sent for peer review. If they are rejected in the peer review, they usually have detailed comments about the strengths and weaknesses of the paper according to the reviewers.

#3 Follow the Author Instructions

In the review process for many journals, many papers that do not follow the author instructions in terms of word limit, style, formatting and number of tables and figures will immediately be rejected. Author instructions continue to expand, and they’re not the friendliest of instructions out there. But you have to adhere to them despite their complexity. And if your paper has deviated from the rules, attach a cover letter with your submission, stating the deviations and your reasons for it. Some journals will review papers that do not fit the prescribed format but have a cover letter attached to them. When you submit a paper that does not adhere to author guidelines, you risk annoying the journal editors and in doing so, delay the review of your paper.

#4 Matching Paper to Journal

A common reason for internal rejection of submitted papers is a mismatch between the paper and the scope of the journal, which is closely related to the journal’s target audience. Although the title of a journal gives some information regarding its scope, more will be found on its website. There are at least 99 health professions education journals, in print and online, with a considerable degree of overlap in mission and scope. A perusal of 1 or 2 journal issues will enlighten authors as to the most common themes, research designs, and authors. Thus, reviewing a few journal issues for content and format, before submitting your paper, is highly recommended. In addition, websites exist that attempt to match article title, key words, or abstract to a particular journal.

#5 Resubmitting to the Same Journal

If the problems that were mentioned in your rejection letter referred to the steps/results that you have done, it is possible for you to resubmit with the missing data. In any case, it is best to check with the journal office first. Another possibility is that the reviews may suggest that you need to put your paper in a different category. This means that you will have to do a complete rewrite of your paper so that it fits the author instructions for the new category.

Resubmitting to a New Journal

You could try resubmitting to another journal but it is imperative to make all the appropriate changes before doing do.  Editors of the journal that you’re resubmitting to are usually pleased to receive a manuscript that has been previously reviewed and revised, and that’s why it is better to avail yourself of paper editing services. It’s important that your paper has been edited and proofread for contextual inaccuracies, grammar errors, spelling mistakes, and structural flaws. Check out PaperTrue for journal editing services! Use all the valuable feedback and the chances of your paper getting rejected are none!

Most of our journal papers have been rejected more than a few times, and that’s okay! But the important thing is to not stop questioning and revising your paper according to the feedback you get from the journal’s editors. Remember; even the best papers get rejected. Part of the reason for this may be your paper got assigned to reviewers whose expertise doesn’t fit it, reviewers who are bad at reviewing or reviewers who simply do not have the time to review it properly. It’s not the end of the world to have your paper rejected. With the best paper editing services, a little determination, and hard work, it’s bound to get published in a good journal!