In the last few months, I’ve received two rejections following peer review. Both were fairly positive, in that the reviewers were positive about the actual research, and made concrete and relevant suggestions for improvement.
The story of the first one is short. I have, for now, shelved the research. The article was based on my Master’s thesis. The reviewers were positive about the central idea, but the article needed restructuring. My research has moved on a lot, and honestly my heart isn’t in doing the extra work required right now.
The story of the second one is this: how I am dealing with those comments and the second-life of the article, from read-through to re-submission. I haven’t looked at the article since I submitted it in August, so I think there’s been enough time for me to come back fresh.
I’ve already briefly read the comments from the editor and reviewers, so I know broadly what they want to see changed. I’ll spend today ‘peer reviewing’ the article myself – trying to be objective, and critical. Then I’ll tally up my own revisions with those of the reviewers and decide which ones to tackle. At that point I’ll decide where to resubmit the article, and start on the revisions. And that will either be the end, or the start of another round of revising. Let’s see!
I’m just on half-way through the article. One of the comments I received was that my treatment of the poetry was, in some places, a bit superficial. Particularly in comparison to treatment of the historical and material evidence. I focus more on historical evidence in my research generally, so I wasn’t surprised to read that. With the benefit of some distance between me-the-writer and me-the-reader I can see exactly what the reviewer was referring to, and in some places I already know how to add a proper layer of analysis underneath it. Other places will require some more reading and thought. The good thing is that I already have some concrete suggestions to improve this article. I return to poetry at the end of the piece, so it will be interesting to see what the discussion is like there. I’m still feeling good about the work itself.
Tuesday, late afternoon
I’ve finished my read-through, and I’m going to go through the reports in detail and make a list of revisions that need to be done and new research that needs to be added. One reviewer picked up on a pretty huge omission in the bibliography, something I thought I’d included, so I will need to double check that, and if it’s really not been cited I will need to cite it (and if it has, I will need to put it in the bibliography!). I’ll start rewriting on Thursday.
I spent this morning working on my research proposal and am now coming back to the article. I’ve just read through the reviewers reports a few times and jotted down the things I agree will make the article stronger from my own read-though on Tuesday. I’m about to open a new document and crack on with re-writing the bits that don’t need significant change. There are two sections that I’ll do some more research on, and I’ll tackle those later. If I can get all the superficial stuff done today, then I should be in a good place to get this back out by the end of next week.
All the superficial stuff is done so I’m now doing a little extra reading and a bit of rewriting. I’m about to spend half an hour reading the poem I discuss at the beginning of the article again, and thinking about framing that discussion in a more nuanced way. One of the reviewers commented about that ‘the conclusion [of this section] seemed right… but the argument was not well developed’ so I’m going to try and plan out that small sub-section with the rest of the afternoon.
I’ll start part-two of the ‘Diary’ next week, and hopefully will have resubmitted the article by the time you hear from me again!
I’d love to hear about the way that others tackle reviewers’ suggestions and the article re-writing process, so feel free to get in touch!
(click here for part two)
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