A reader writes:
I came across a post on New APPS in which Jon Cogburn mentions that his highest placed publication, which finally appeared in Australasian, was rejected 7 times. I began to wonder just how common this is. As a young scholar, it could be helpful to know just what others experiences are. Do other philosophers eventually publish in highly ranked journals after a long series of rejections?
In the comments to that old blog post, someone asks the question I have in mind:
"Stories of persistence are good for the profession. Many thanks. I would be intrigued to see the back-history of papers, anonymously done. It could take the form of: My paper at journal A was previously rejected at journals B, C, D, E, F. and G, after minor/moderate/substantial revisions. I'll start: My paper at British Journal for the History of Philosophy was previously rejected first at the Journal of the History of Philosophy and then at The Review of Metaphysics after moderate revisions. This exercise might also be helpful in viewing how successful authors rank journals."
Unfortunately no one responded to this post. I thought the Cocoon would be a perfect place to have such a discussion, since so many of its readers are also probably struggling to make in into journals (of whatever kind), and wondering just how many rejections successful papers usually receive.
So I was wondering if you would be willing to start a thread on this topic on the Cocoon.
I think this is a great query, and am curious to hear what readers' experiences have been. Do you have a story of persistence you are willing to share? If so, I imagine many readers would be interested!
For my part, I have one story I'm sort of proud of, and in any case learned a lot from. My article, "First Steps Toward a Nonideal Theory of Justice", was rejected--in one variant or another (and there were many!)--by well over 15 journals over about 6 years before landing at Ethics & Global Politics. Although its final destination may not impress (E&GP is a new, relatively unknown journal), it's still one of the papers I'm most proud of. I previously had revise-and-resubmits on it from two highly ranked journals, but, I am sad to say, I totally mucked them up. In any case, although I almost gave up on it at one point, and although I worry sometimes it will be ignored in the literature due to not ending up in a name journal, I am all-things-considered glad for the entire process and the end-result. Truth be told, it became clear to me in retrospect the paper was never "ready" until E&GP. I struggled to get the argument right for years, and it was only thanks to some truly awesome comments from two reviewers at E&GP that (in my view) I finally got the argument right (or, as right as it can be). And that's what matters--or should matter?--in the end, right? At least, that's what I'm inclined to think. I'm actually glad the earlier versions hadn't been accepted by the better journals, as I think it's a far better paper now, regardless of where it ended up.
Anyway, that's my story. Do you have a story of your own you'd like to share?