Rejected, But Not Dejected

A report by the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) of a recently published study by Vincent Calcagno et al. suggests that rejection by one journal with a subsequent resubmission and publication elsewhere may be a very good thing, appearing to be associated with the article’s being more frequently cited than articles accepted on the first submission attempt.

The SSP report observes:

While resubmission costs authors time and effort, it also comes with real benefits. Articles previously rejected by another journal received significantly more citations than articles published on their first submission attempt. Calcagno interprets this finding as evidence that the peer-review process is doing its job. Indeed, two large surveys on peer review (Sense about Science (2009), and Mark Ware/PRC (2007)) both indicate that scientists overwhelming agree that the peer-review process improves the quality of their work. Proponents of the publish-first-review-later model argue that it is better to produce more publications than improve the quality of one’s work.

James Evans, a University of Chicago sociologist of science, suggests an additional explanation for the improved citation impact findings. As quoted in The Scientist:

“Papers that are more likely to contend against the status quo are more likely to find an opponent in the review system”—and thus be rejected—“but those papers are also more likely to have an impact on people across the system,” earning them more citations when finally published.

The SSP report is on its Web site:

The original research study by Calcagno et al. :

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