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Revise & Resubmit

It's par for the course in academia: a scholar submits an article manuscript to a journal and, more often than not, the editor of said journal outright rejects the article.

Let me share an example of my own. A few years ago, an editor, whom I greatly respect, wrote me the rejection email below. At the time, I felt totally defeated and had to call on a few colleagues to bring me back from the brink. In hindsight, this rejection email is actually quite gracious:

"I regret to report that we are unable to accept your article. It’s very well done, carefully argued, clearly presented, and I agree that [this case] is interesting. But in my view, obviously debatable, this just doesn’t rise to a significance level suitable for [our journal]."

I submitted that article manuscript elsewhere and it was accepted.

On occasion, instead of rejecting a manuscript outright, the editor will ask the author to revise and resubmit the manuscript.

Such is the case for another article manuscript that I've been preparing. Though it was never rejected, the manuscript went through a few rounds of revise and resubmit. I needed to fine tune, clarify, and modify based on comments and suggestions from peer reviewers.

And I did.

I worked on this manuscript for two years. I re-wrote the introduction. I deepened my analytical points. I cut redundant paragraphs. It took time.

I feel like I've accomplished something now that the article has been accepted to a rather well-regarded history journal!

I've learned a lot about my own writing, particularly my "patterns" and "tendencies," both good and bad. These tendencies are listed in a Word document--kind of like a checklist--that I refer back to when I revise and edit my writing. For example, I overuse adverbs sometimes. Instead of being mindful of that as I write, which could slow me down and put me into editor mode before my ideas are even on the page, I jotted it down on my 'tendencies' list and will look for that when I start revising.

I've also gained some perspective about rejection. It's simple: keep writing, always revise, and keep submitting.

Revise & Resubmit
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