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A manuscript that my supervisors and a collaborator and I have been working on for so long recently got rejected twice by different journals, the main reason being that the findings are considered as "nothing new" and didn't "add anything to the field". However, we do think that our findings contribute to the field and can justify this major reason for rejection. I am thinking about whether we should appeal against the decision. I know it is risky and most likely won't be successful. But I would like to hear what you think about this.Thank you!

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  • Do the journals provide some appeal mechanism? Appeal to whom, exactly?
    – Buffy
    Feb 5 at 19:42
  • Better ask if you can resubmit the paper after making substantial changes to your explanation/manuscript
    – Mark
    Feb 5 at 20:29
  • Readers, even if you think the answer is "no", this doesn't make it a bad question, so please do not downvote just because of this. Feb 6 at 11:08
  • @Mark thank you. the journal doesn't accept resubmit manuscripts unfortunately...
    – Josee Luis
    Feb 6 at 20:10
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You're starting at the wrong end. If four or more reviewers plus two editors have found that your paper has "nothing new", but you think that "our findings contribute to the field", then you haven't made your point well enough in the paper.

The most pragmatic approach to dealing with rejections is to assume that the failure lies with your writing and not ignorant reviewers and editors: If someone doesn't see your point, then you haven't made your point well enough. Any appeal will not change that you haven't written your paper well enough.

So: go back to the drawing board. Read through your introduction and try to understand whether, from the perspective of a reader, you've made it clear enough where the current knowledge has deficits, why we should care about these deficits, and how your paper addresses these deficits. If you make these points clearly and easy to find/understand for a reader, and your papers will get accepted. If you make it difficult for readers to understand the point of the paper, you will get rejections.

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  • Thank you so much for this! Would you recommend writing to the editor about how we will improve our paper and address reviewers' comments (i.e. to make our point well enough)? The idea of appealing was brought up during an email exchange between me and my collaborator, not including my supervisors. So I'm still thinking about how to bring this up with my supervisors..
    – Josee Luis
    Feb 6 at 20:16
  • @JoseeLuis Then talk to your advisers. They presumably have much more experience in writing papers, and might be able to see what needs to be done. Separately, when you read papers in the future, ask yourself not just about the content but also whether you thought that the paper was well written and why. Then copy what you thought worked well in your own papers. Feb 6 at 21:20
  • Thank you very much for your advice! This is really helpful.
    – Josee Luis
    Feb 6 at 22:26

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