The 5 stages of grieving a rejection

Snoopy paper1

I’m naturally talking about papers/grants/prizes/applications/orders rejection. 

Open you email and search for “regret” and “pleased” and you will unequivocally see that “regret to inform you” >>> ”pleased to inform you”. 

It’s monday morning, you are in a good mood, coming back in the lab for setting some experiment planned during the weekend. You pick up a cup of bad coffee and go to your desk, start the computer and start reading the work emails:

Object:  Decision on Manuscript ID XX-SHT-04-2014-012345

When you open there are only two words you are screening in the first 5 seconds: “REGRET” or “PLEASED”. Then, depending by the one found, the scream could be of joy or of intense pain. How could you deal with the n-times rejection?

Caro Wallis We regret to inform you

First of all let’s check what happens in your brain:

1- Denial and isolation.
Come on, it was a great paper, nice idea, months and months of work, unequivocal data. It’s impossible it was rejected, I need to read this mail again. And again. And again. Nope, still rejected. Maybe if I print this email I’ll manage to read it better. Printed and no, it is still rejected. Maybe it’s just because it was printed in black and white. Let’s try to print it in color. No, still rejected. 
It’s impossible, they should have sent this email by mistake, it’s not for me, it’s not for my amazing paper. 

2- Anger
Seriously? They reject this paper? How the hell can they do that? The referees must hate me, I know who they are. But why the editor didn’t say anything about this? He must be blind. I will never ever ever and ever submit another paper to this journal. Now let’s go smashing some 10mL cylinders in the lab, bleaching some dyes and shooting laser with MALDI.  

3- Bargaining
Maybe I should write to the editor. It’s an interesting paper, all the data is correct. He must see it. Maybe he will see that the referees are wrong. Maybe, maybe, maybe.… I may add new spectra, new data, new conclusion, maybe a horse head (it usually works). I can change the title, the authors list and even the corresponding author. But please accept this paper, I’ll referee 50 new papers….. I will even put the name of the editor in the acknowledgment and the name of the journal in my presentation slides. I can tattoo the journal logo on my forearm. I’ll only publish with your amazing journal for the rest of my life, and even my kids will only publish there and their kids as well. 

4- Depression
Why I am even doing all of this? Why I am doing research, and teaching, and writing grants, and papers than then will be rejected without any reason? I could have been in a company, earning 5 times what I’m earning now and for sure I would not working in the weekend. I could have been a barista on a beach somewhere in a warm place, and not here freezing in a cold lab. Ok, I quit. Let’s go to tell it to the rest of the people in the lab. Fu*k it, I’m done with this. They accept so many crappy paper and they cannot even realize how good was my paper. I’m soooo done with it. 
So long rest of the people in the department. See you in hell losers!!!!

5- Acceptance
Nothing to do, the editor agreed with the referees. Ok, I know it, it’s part of the game. It’s the part of the game that I don’t like, but I like to play the rest. What can I do? Now let’s do the worst part of all of this:
Changing the citation format for the new journal……  

How to deal with it? I like the Bernard Black way.

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