Paper rejection? Fear not! Fascinating blog/article on journal rejections and subsequent citations

Have you ever had a paper rejected by a journal? Was it a lower impact journal that you chose because you really wanted to get something published? Well, fear not. All is not lost!

In a blog that is well worth a read, Vincent Calcagno writes about a large-scale research project he has undertaken on paper rejections by journals and subsequent article publication.

He writes, ‘As an ecologist, I like to see the jungle of scientific publishing as an intricate food-web in which journals are dreary predators competing for the valuable food items that research findings and manuscripts are. They sometimes catch the food directly from the source, and sometimes recycle food-items previously rejected by another predator. With our data, we thus reconstructed the “food web” of scientific journals, where trophic links really are publication of an article previously rejected by another journal.’

Amongst the more important findings were:

  1. about 75 per cent of all articles had been published by the first journal to which they were submitted
  2. ‘high impact journals tended to publish fewer first-intent submissions (and thus more articles that had been previously sent elsewhere).’

The implication of this is that there may well be what he terms ‘a ‘benefit of rejection’ by which he means that the article is improved as a consequence of peer review (or possibly through the author(s) being prompted to be more careful and select a more appropriate journal) and thereby achieves publication by a better quality journal (measured by impact factor) than would otherwise have been the case.

Something to hold onto the next time you receive a rejection email!


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