Monday, February 16, 2009

What's A Rejection?

I don't have as much experience of being rejected by journals as being rejected by potential employers (who often never have the decency to tell you), but even in my limited experience it can be hard to tell exactly how to take some editors' responses. Most recently, I had a rejection with a suggestion that they journal would reconsider with major revisions, and had very little idea how this should be interpreted.

Different journals have different decision options, but here's how I rank them:
1) Accept 'as is'
2) Conditional acceptance
3) Revise and resubmit
4) Willing to reconsider with revisions
5) Reject

Matters are complicated, however, because the revisions involved in 2-4 may very greatly in extent. Sometimes a revise and resubmit may turn out to be less problematic than a conditional acceptance. Moreover, what some journals call 'revise and resubmit' may in practice be a 2 or 4. (Indeed, I was once given what was officially a R&R that was in fact an acceptance - the editor told me he'd accept the piece whatever, but wanted to give me the opportunity to respond to the reviewers.)

Here's a helpful guide to interpreting editorial decisions, via Pea Soup.

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