You hear the “ping” of an incoming email and quickly check the subject – oh, crap, it’s from a journal! This could make or break your day. You open the email and quickly scan for the word “reject.” Wait? What!? No “reject”? No “Unfortunately, their assessments do not provide us with sufficient support to continue the review process”? Does this mean what you think it means? You now read the letter closely, your pulse starting to rise. It is! A revise and resubmit!
I remember when I started sending things out for review – I didn’t actually realize that the goal of a first round submission was not an “accept” but a “revise and resubmit” – an “R&R” in professor-speak. Acceptances on the first round are extremely rare. An R&R is the decision you should be hoping for; it’s the first step – and the hardest step – in the process to a peer-reviewed publication in our discipline. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a step we talk about much or actively advise graduate students on. I’ve been shocked to find out that some of my students have resubmitted things without their advisor’s input at all. An R&R is not just an intermittent stop on the road to a publication. It’s a crucial junction: a misstep can cost you years of further anguish at getting the manuscript published.
After dealing with almost 30 R&Rs, I think there is a method or a strategy that works for revise and resubmits: appeasement. The goal of the R&R stage is to make at least two reviewers 100% convinced that the manuscript is worthy of publication while not angering the other reviewer(s). I know this advice is unsolicited – however, I thought I’d share 5 tips to ease in converting R&Rs into acceptances.