About six weeks ago, I submitted a manuscript to a fairly well-known journal in my field. Within three weeks, I received a desk reject–the editors did not send it out for peer review.
I can’t say I was totally surprised by the rejection–I was aware the manuscript had flaws. But what did surprise me was the rejection letter.
The editors summarized my article, pointed out it’s strengths, and then provided brief comments on its weaknesses. But in those comments the editors offered a series of high-level suggestions on how to improve the manuscript. Reading through the feedback made it clear which direction I should take the article in and makes me confident to resubmit. Reading their letter felt good because it was useful, constructive feedback.
Having a manuscript rejected can be frustrating, but doubly so if you have no idea on why or how to improve. Academic writing is not magic and editors can strengthen the review process by providing this type of feedback with rejections. Previous rejections have left me wondering about my ability as a scholar–this rejection made me excited to work through revisions.
The rejection was also kind–and we need all the kindness we can get right now.