Monday, September 04, 2006

The cloud and the silver lining

This morning there was a paper rejection in my Inbox.

The "cloud" aspect of this:

  • It's a rejection. Rejections suck as a general rule.

  • Very few helpful revision comments. I sent the paper to a conference in a field in which this work does fall (it straddles several subfields), and the comments all focused on things that, frankly, are peripheral issues to this particular work. (I hate when that happens!) I should have anticipated the comments and addressed them in the paper, but I didn't. Lesson learned.

  • This is the third go-round for the paper. Well, let's call it 2.5, since the first time I resubmitted it I made almost no revisions before turning it around. I really thought I had adequately addressed all of the earlier shortcomings. I really thought it had a good chance of being accepted.

  • I really wanted to go to this conference. I've never been. (I might still go, depending on the travel budget this year, but we'll see.)

  • I have to put writing up new aspects of my work on hold until I can turn this paper around.

The "silver lining" aspect of this:

  • The worst reviewer only marked it "weak reject". The other reviewers recommended it be accepted (at various levels of accept). So the paper definitely has merit. Which I knew already, but it's nice to have that reaffirmed.

  • There is a deadline for another conference coming up quickly. I was planning on submitting new work (see above), but getting very stressed out because the writeup/analysis is going much slower than I'd like and I wasn't sure if I could make the deadline. Resubmitting this paper instead means a ton less work for me for this deadline, and means that I can submit the new work to a conference with a deadline later in the fall.

  • This other conference is both more prestigious and a better fit for this work. Hopefully that means our chances of acceptance are good.

  • I now know how to make this work look more acceptable to this particular subfield. Which means I could potentially broaden the scope/exposure of this work. Which is definitely A Good Thing.


ScienceWoman said...

I'm glad you can see the silver lining here.

Anonymous said...

Read this.

The conference refereeing process sucks. But it is a random process and you should presist if you believe in the paper...

FemaleCSGradStudent said...

I totally agree about the randomness of conferences. Perhaps the "weak reject" reviewer hadn't gotten laid recently, and was in a grumpy mood and took it out on you. Getting a rejection is no reflection of you or your ability, but it certainly is frustrating nonetheless. I'm glad you'll have a quick turn-around on this one, and you can submit it to another conference soon.

Wicked Teacher of the West said...

I agree with being impressed at your ability to see the silver lining. Rejections are so frustrating, especially when they seem arbitrary. Of course, sometimes extra good comes out of the bad, so I'm hoping it works out even better than you'd have hoped.

Jane said...

Anonymous, thanks for the link--very entertaining!

FCSGS, that is usually my first thought too, when I get a particularly bad/scathing review. :)

And thanks for the kind words, everyone! I have to credit my thesis advisor and another of my mentors for helping me learn to "read between the lines" of reviews and separate out the signal from the noise--and teaching me how to handle rejections with grace and humor. Well, most of the time, at least.

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