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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?

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    Have you discussed it with your PI? – Dmitry Savostyanov Mar 23 at 17:25
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    Let your emotion simmer for a while. Time heals, and it is important to realize life is much more about a rejection. Do other things and forget about the paper for the time being. Once you are ready, pick yourself up and continue onward. After being in academia for so long, it still hurts but I know it will pass. Nowadays, I can hardly remember any of the emotions I felt when my papers got rejected; sadly, same with acceptance :| – Prof. Santa Claus Mar 23 at 20:41
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    The fact that you feel something means you care enough about the work. Imagine one day you could care less about whether a paper is accepted or rejected. At that time, I think it's time to leave research and change course. – Prof. Santa Claus Mar 23 at 21:58
  • I'm pretty sure this has been asked before, but I can't find the question. – henning Mar 24 at 9:38
  • @henning I did not find either. This is why I asked the question... – optimal control Mar 24 at 17:34
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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.

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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.

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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?

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    Do you happen to have a source for that Kipling quote? – user2705196 Mar 24 at 13:52
  • I read it in The Experts Speak: An Encylopedic Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation. – Peter Flom Mar 24 at 15:35
  • Do you think the quote is real? – user2705196 Mar 25 at 21:45
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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.

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