I am a post-doc in economics. I know that rejections are quite usual but I feel very sad (I think more than necessary) because of rejections. For a paper on which I worked for four years, I got two rejections since last year. I already have two accepted papers but I am overwhelmed with a rejection that I received this morning and I am wondering whether academia is really a good choice to me. I know this is an unnecessary feeling. What to do in order to deal with these situations?
I read recently in economics a single publication in a distinct top-tier journal earns you professorship. Hard to understand for me as a physicist, but if it is really like this and I know the ratio PhD students/professors in economics is much much smaller than in experimental sciences (at least in Germany), then you have to live with the fact that the acception/rejection is more difficult/sophisticated and more lottery-like than in other scientific branches. On the other hand, your chances to get tenure are likely also much higher than in those. I hope this solaces you a bit :-)
And if you got 2 papers published already, you know there is nothing wrong with the way you write your papers in general.
Any sort of rejection in life is hard to take.
But note that there are several reasons for a paper being rejected other than the quality of the paper, and, certainly, other than your own ability/worth as a researcher.
Poor fit for the journal, and poor timing come to mind. Some reviewers are just nearly impossible to get anything through, for a variety of reasons.
I'd suggest that you get some additional feedback on your paper as well as some advice on your career before you toss in the towel.
But the pain will still be there for a while. It's just a natural human reaction. Find joy elsewhere for a bit until it subsides.
Rejection is hard. But rejection happens, even to great writers, in and out of academia. My favorite rejection letter is this one:
"We're sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you don't know how to use the English language."
Did they give any reasons for rejection?
Was it an outright rejection or a "revise and resubmit"?
In addition to the reasons listed by Buffy, I will suggest that you might have aimed too high - perhaps the journal is so high prestige that they reject almost everything and perhaps a less established journal would be better.
I work as a statistical reviewer (not in economics, though) and, while I almost never reject, sometimes my problems with the methods are a reason that the editors reject.
Another thing to note is that you got two acceptance already (congratulations!)
In any case, I think that getting one paper rejected is not a good reason to change careers. Perhaps there is someone you can talk to about dealing with rejection?
My first paper got rejected twice. I was feeling very low and doubtful about it. I made up my mind to ask my advisor about my performance and tell him that I had considered leaving my PhD. He told me to stick with the project and that he was happy with the job I did. The next two years I clung on to this. It was still difficult but I didn't leave the project and got my PhD. I however decided afterwards to leave academia because of the lack of appreciation/encouragement and the hard competition for a permanent job in academia.