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I am a Postdoc, recently I submitted my first single-author publication (physics). I had one journal in mind and briefly discussed the idea with several seniors, and nobody really objected. Now I started to realize that the journal I targeted is most probably not perfectly matching the topic and on top of that is too high-ranking for my work, which is simply an improvement and extension of already existing methods.

I suppose that I might get rejected, but will this have negative impact for me? Should I contact the editor already now? Currently the article is in its second revision stage, and the anonymous reviewer was not too enthusiastic about my work in the first place (which probably is also due to the issue I am describing), but also I did not get rejected right away. My fear is that a low-impact article in a high-impact journal might shed a bad light on me and my possible future career. So should I interrupt the process, or wait and see what happens?

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    No, how can it have any negative impact on you?
    – Neuchâtel
    Feb 21, 2023 at 12:43
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    You indicated ... "the anonymous reviewer was not too enthusiastic about my work in the first place". Is your manuscript being reviewed by one or by two or three reviewers. Is the 'not too enthusiastic' by all reviewers or just the one. Feb 21, 2023 at 18:03
  • it is only one reviewer as far as i understood
    – enzo
    Feb 22, 2023 at 13:55
  • @enzo - Let things play out. The comments of the reviewer could be very beneficial, even if the paper is rejected. Feb 23, 2023 at 15:11

2 Answers 2

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You asked several questions in one.

  1. I suppose that I might get rejected, but will this have negative impact for me?
  2. Should I contact the editor already now?
  3. ... should I interrupt the process, or wait and see what happens?

Starting with #3. You should keep calm and enjoy the process unfolds.

  • A targeted journal need not perfectly match. Though there should be some matching. Hence why journals post their 'aim', 'scope', and 'about'.
  • Another indicator of #match is alignment between your reference list, authors and journals.

Invariably #3 answers #2. You don't have to contact the editor already.

Before addressing #1, seemly you have a #4.

  • The 'fear' should be having ('low-impact) article(s) in shaky or low-impact journals. That is what would 'shed a bad light on' a possible future academic career.
  • Having a shot at discipline's foremost high-ranking journal is a target every researcher should attempt. With the right mindset (well-conditioned 'thick skin'), there's much to be gained from the review process. Yes, some reviewers can be obnoxious and condescending. Looking beyond the (review) text and looking within the review text (reading in-between the line) is key to improving one's manuscript (and making adjustment to the research work where need be.

As to your #1, a rejection does not impact negatively.
In between, rejection is a fabric we all wear with pride as researchers. Fearing rejection as academia is fearing to excel.

Contribution to knowledge comes in many ways. Novelty is not only in 'new frontiers'. Novelty can come from 'improvement and extension of already existing methods'. The shift in the existing method might (go ahead to) make a groundbreaking impact on the discipline. Discussing 'novel/novelty' might take us to discuss #philosophy, which might distract us from your question. [For a few pointers to the philosophy of novel/novelty, see James, 1979; Miller, 1950; Cohen, 2017]. This quote from Cohen, 2017 might lead to other nuances of novelty. I would venture into those here.

“(T)he primary novelty of this work is the ability to make a prediction about drug sensitivity. Reviewers felt that the predictive ability would be very hard to generalize, however, reducing the impact of this novel feature. This concern about novelty… was the driving factor in this decision.” -excerpt from a rejection letter received by the author

Novel/novelty might also lead us into the terrain of positivism, interpretivism, pragmatism, critical realism and the rest of research philosophy. It appears novel/novelty might have been part of the driver of Roy Bhaskar in his ferocious 'development' of critical realism.

Be it as it may, since your 'article is in its second revision stage', go through the process, develop strong rebuttal skills and insightful communication. You'll need them in your 'future career'. The world is your oyster.

Parting shot: Your research work has already caught the attention of the Editor. You've scaled through desk reject. Don't abort!!!

James, W. (1979). Some problems of philosophy (Vol. 7). Harvard University Press
Miller, D. L. (1950). Novelty and Continuity. The Journal of Philosophy, 47(13), 369-378
Cohen, B. A. (2017). How should novelty be valued in science?. Elife, 6, e28699

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  • in the end the article made it to the journal with surprisingly few comments from the reviewers. thanks for your answers.
    – enzo
    Jan 5 at 13:30
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Let the journal's consideration take its course. Having a paper rejected has no negative impact for you. (Indeed, the rejection will be unknown to most people.) The only negative effect is the time lost while you wait. But this is outweighed by the benefit if the paper is accepted (even if that likelihood is small).

If your papers are always accepted by the first journal you send them to, then you are aiming too low.

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