Saturday, August 16, 2008


My advisor (Dr. K) mistakenly listed me as the corresponding author when she submitted our paper a few weeks ago. As a result, the rejection letter arrived in my inbox on Friday. I get the unpleasant task of informing Dr. K on Tuesday, when she gets back from vacation.
I've worked for her long enough to know exactly how things will play out. The initial look of defeat, followed by the sad eyes look of I'm sorry, that quickly melts into the cheery realizations that I pushed for submitting to the better journal, and the work consists of ideas that were 100% mine. Whew. She feels better and the lecture ensues. "Now, microbiologist XX...don't feel bad, we can address the suggestions and submit to the journals I prefer" (The preferred journals are similar to a J Bac.) My rejected paper could probably be submitted, as is, to this type of journal and would likely get accepted, but I would rather address the issues raised by the reviewers and resubmit to this journal or a journal with a similar "rating" for the following reasons:

1. The negative comments were very few and weren't really that negative. All three reviewers felt that the evidence for two particular claims that we make to be "thin." However, the reviewers also stated that they thought the conclusions drawn from said evidence were correct. Fortunately, the same issues occurred to me, and as a result, I've already have some of the data. The new results support the original conclusions of the paper and address all the major points the reviewers listed.

2. The reviewers and the editors all made many positive comments about the relevance of the work. Actually, based on the comments in total, I am kind of surprised that the paper was not accepted with modifications. However, it is a good journal that can probably be that picky, which brings me to my next reason.

3. Getting rejected from a better journal leaves you with some great feed back on your work. Also, the experience teaches you about submitting to different kinds of journals and what different journals expect. Since my previous papers were published in J Bac-type journals, I feel like I know what the expectations are. Resubmitting this paper will teach me more about the expectations of journals with higher impact factors.

4. The turn around time for this particular journal is quick, so why not try again. If its rejected again, we send it to journals that fall within the comfort zone with little time lost.

We'll see how it goes on Tuesday when I discuss things with Dr. K.


post-doc said...

I absolutely agree with your comments and hope you're successful in submitting (and getting published) to a high impact journal.

Mad Hatter said...

Sorry about the rejection, but it definitely sounds like you can address all the reviewers' concerns. Any chance the editor will reconsider his/her decision and let you resubmit as a "accepted with modifications"?

chall said...

I would suggest that you have drafted some of the answeres you list here to your Advisor K.

It makes a pretty good argument, even if you aren't going into detail. And yes, in general you can always ask the Editor if s/he would consider going for "new submittal" based on the positive comments made by the reviewers - especially since the importance of the work seems good.

my 2 cents.

Good luck!!! Will keep fingers crossed.

[and the last thing, since it was such a quick response?! maybe it would take too long to address the editor and ask. I've learned that you can talk to the Editor much more than I previously thought.... they are humans too... :) ]

Mad Hatter said...

By the way, tag!

microbiologist xx said...

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I really appreciate it. I have put together a plan of attack and I am going to present it to Dr. K when we talk today...if we talk today.

Since Dr. K knows the editor, I am going to see if she can talk to him directly and maybe get an idea about whether or not we should resubmit (unless this is unethical) to that particular journal and what, if anything, would have tipped the balance toward accepted with modifications.

Thanks again for the support!

chall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chall said...

I don't think it's unethical... or maybe it is but people do it all the time?!!?

It's easier to call and ask than to write an email.

Good luck in any case!!!