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Some days earlier, in the hour of contemplation, I made an extremely critical and paradigm-shifting breakthrough in my field and then, I started writing on it for a publishing and many times checked through the paper and finally submitted it after many days of proofreading.

The paper was committed to the biggest and most popular journal for my field, and I waited for a reply. And the reply was saddening, my paper was mysteriously rejected. As I contacted the reviewer, I was told that he and others "rejected it by simply reading the title".

And my title was very professional, in the sense that it was not something like "X proven wrong and Y revolutionized!".

Now I am confused on what I should do, this paper needs to be published. If not for myself, then atleast for the thousands of other researchers who have hopelessly comitted their lives to this field.

I must add here, as my advisor congratulated me and hugged me on this great discovery, he was skeptical of my paper being published because it is simply too outstanding to be true. And big journals who receive thousands of paper each day will most likely reject it in quickness, and this paper needs to be read with a lot of thought and concentration to be believed. He advised that I should submit it to a lesser known journal whose reviewers he is great friends with, so that he'll tell him to take a good thoughtful look at it. He assured me that my paper would be accepted there. However, I might have naively not considered this and simply went for the biggest journal out of extolment.

So what should I do now? And is rejecting a paper because it is too good even a valid reason?

marked as duplicate by EnergyNumbers, gerrit, scaaahu, Wrzlprmft, jakebeal Nov 27 '15 at 12:22

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    Well, there's the obvious solution: just change the title of your paper. Seriously, obfuscate it enough that it is not immediately clear what your final conclusion is going to be. Make sure the introduction and abstract don't give it away either. This is called "burying the lead" and it is generally a bad practice but it does have the one advantage that your paper has to be read before it can be rejected for its claims. (Of course it could still be rejected for other reasons) – RBarryYoung Nov 27 '15 at 4:23
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    Some days earlier... I made an extremely critical and paradigm-shifting breakthrough in my field... and finally submitted it after many days of proofreading. You cannot write a seminal paper in a few days and expect people to take you seriously. – Alexandros Nov 27 '15 at 5:18
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    Did your advisor exactly say the article was "too outstanding to be true"? This is very different than "too outstanding to be easily accepted" or "too outstanding and will be looked with suspicion" for example. – Taladris Nov 27 '15 at 5:52
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    This just seems like a made-up story. – Marc Claesen Nov 27 '15 at 8:47
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    @Vajura either lying or massively overestimating his brilliance. – jwenting Nov 27 '15 at 10:08
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You don't say what your field is. I think you would get a better answer if you did, as cultural norms differ. My answer is from the perspective of a pure mathematician.

The first thing I want to say is that, given absolutely no specific technical information about your situation, your post gives me the impression that your work is most likely not correct. Or to be more precise: it is an empirical fact that most papers which claim to completely revolutionize a field turn out to be incorrect, so from a probabilistic perspective anyone who says that is most likely not to be correct -- and this by the way is an attitude that you need to be aware of and take into account. What I really mean is that the way you describe your work makes me think it is more likely to be incorrect than if you had just said "I believe I have done work of the highest level of importance in my field, but I have not been able to publish it. What should I do?"

But rather than picking apart your post to reveal why I got that impression, let me concentrate on directly answering your questions.

And is rejecting a paper because it is too good even a valid reason?

Obviously not. Not only is this an invalid reason, it is a reason that does not make any sense and thus is never given. And it was not given to you. If you really think your paper might have been rejected because it was too good, you need to have a long talk with your mentors about how academia works.

So what should I do now?

My advice you to you is to talk to your advisor once more to make sure you've correctly understood what he told you to do. If you have, then I'm sorry to say that I think you may need to find a new advisor -- or at least a new mentor to help you out here. The advice as reported sounds terrible.

I must add here, as my advisor congratulated me and hugged me on this great discovery, he was skeptical of my paper being published because it is simply too outstanding to be true.

Please remember to choose your language carefully in academic discussions. Did your advisor really say "it is simply too outstanding to be true"? If so, he is saying that he does not believe your work is correct, and somehow that most important message has been lost. You are acting as if he said "it is simply too outstanding to be published in a top journal", which doesn't make sense.

And big journals who receive thousands of paper each day will most likely reject it in quickness, and this paper needs to be read with a lot of thought and concentration to be believed.

It would be very helpful to know what your field is here. In my field (mathematics) there are no journals which receive thousands of papers a day. Moreover most papers which are submitted to top journals are read with a lot of thought and concentration -- in fact, the very top journal in my field, Annals of Mathematics, is a bit notorious for keeping (correct!) papers for more than a year before rejecting them after a careful evaluation.

Of course if your paper does something revolutionary and the arguments are difficult and technical, the burden is on you to present them as clearly as you possibly can, and also to make sure that your paper does not have any superficial flaws that would invite an early rejection. The question which has been suggested as a duplicate of this one has many good answers giving advice about this issue. Let me add that it sounds like it has arisen for you:

As I contacted the reviewer, I was told that he and others "rejected it by simply reading the title".

(Again, please choose language carefully: do you really mean the "reviewer" or the "editor"?) Rejecting a paper simply by reading its title would be inappropriate and unprofessional. Even if the title is terrible or worse, one should read at least a little farther to confirm the initial impression. I have to say that I am skeptical that the editor at the top journal in your field told you this. Could you confirm that this is exactly what happened? (FYI, exhibiting a terrible title that you didn't use didn't convince me that your title was adequate.)

He advised that I should submit it to a lesser known journal whose reviewers he is great friends with, so that he'll tell him to take a good thoughtful look at it. He assured me that my paper would be accepted there. However, I might have naively not considered this and simply went for the biggest journal out of extolment.

This sounds like very bad advice. (Again I assume by "reviewers" you mean "editors".) If your advisor really thought your paper was correct and revolutionary, he should be helping you publish it in a top journal, not a journal in which he can arrange to have his influence exerted. It is really inappropriate for him to ensure that your paper will be accepted: again, how does he know it is correct? But I see a germ of something valuable: if he has colleagues or contacts that can give your work the attention it deserves, why don't you ask him to send your paper, as a manuscript, to those people?

In general the way that you try to publish a truly revolutionary paper is not exactly the same as a run-of-the-mill one. Namely, as I said at the beginning, the better a result you claim the more likely it is incorrect (no matter who you are). Everyone knows this. So -- and here I may be talking more specifically about my own field, which has a vibrant preprint culture -- you can make your life a lot easier by circulating your revolutionary paper as a preprint, giving talks / going to conferences / visiting various experts and so forth. If you can't convince any top person in the field that your work is correct, how will you publish it -- and more importantly, so what if you do publish it? Conversely if you can convince several worldwide experts in the area that what you've done is correct, then the path to publication becomes a lot smoother.

Good luck.

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    Very good answer. I might add that, as long the cultural conventions of the OP's field allow for it, the preprint could and should be posted on the arXiv before circulating it and presented at conferences. – Delio Mugnolo Nov 27 '15 at 8:59
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    This answer is simply too outstanding to be true :) – Ooker Nov 27 '15 at 9:07
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    I can actually think of plenty of titles that would make it fine to reject a paper based solely on the title (for example a title making it clear that the paper is outside the scope of the journal, or one making a claim that is widely known to be false). – Tobias Kildetoft Nov 27 '15 at 10:14
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    @Tobias: A title like that could be a joke of some kind, or it could have a meaning that only becomes clear once the paper is read. In either of the two examples you mentioned, I can't imagine that a conscientious referee wouldn't confirm suspicions gained from the title by reading at least some of the paper. – Pete L. Clark Nov 27 '15 at 18:24
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    @Ooker: According to this link nature.com/nature/authors/get_published Nature receives 200 papers per week. – Pete L. Clark Nov 27 '15 at 18:28
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Based on your post, I would say that you probably didn't choose an inspired title.

One of the big problems with the top journals in my field is that they get many junk papers from wannabee mathematicians. One of the most common trait of these is a grand title, and many reviewers know from many past experiences that if an unknown submits a paper entitled "The best proof ever" or "Proof of Riemann, Collatz and the ABC conjectures" they are invariably a complete waste of time. The exceptions are so rare that it is not worth the effort, and most mathematicians which are not world renowned experts in their field probably know not to oversell the paper in the title.

Now, think for a moment about this. You make a paradigm-shifting breakthrough in your field, do you need to emphasize this in the title?

If your paper is right, will the readers be convinced by the title, by the contents of the paper or by both? The title will have absolutely 0 impact on this, it is the contents and contents alone which convinces readers.

Now, if you missed something in your paper, and your paper is wrong, then you have a junk paper with a grand title, that's a bit embarrassing.

Last but not least, as I said a grandeur claim from an unknown usually creates a bad impression even before reading the paper, it might detract some of the readers. And even if someone reads it and understands that you indeed found a breakthrough, that title can easily be interpreted as "in your face, I proved this and you couldn't" (most serious scientists wouldn't do this, but I know few who would).

At the end of the day, with such a discovery, it is not important what you think about your paper; it only matters what the community thinks. And you can often achieve more with a modest well chosen title.

Last but not least, in areas where things can be open to interpretation, a wrong title (i.e. This approach is the only one which is right) can be interpreted as trying to impose you opinion on the community; or as telling people with other views that they are wrong...

P.S. This advice is based on my understanding on how people in my domain would react in a similar situation, things might be different in other areas.

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If I were you I would try: http://arxiv.org/ (http://arxiv.org/help/submit) Once it's there, please share the link here, I'm sure many will be interested to prove your statement right or wrong.

Best

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    Depending on the field, it may be a terrible idea. Some publishers refuse to publish manuscripts that have circulated as preprints, and in some fields all the worthy publishers are like this. – Davidmh Nov 27 '15 at 9:13
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    @Davidmh on the other hand, if the paper is truly revolutionary then it will likely become well known and cited within the field – such widespread acceptance is a good substitute for peer review. So it wouldn't necessarily be a disaster. – Moriarty Nov 27 '15 at 9:29
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    If a paper has issues that make it get rejected on sight, on Arxiv it'll look like a crackpot paper. Even if it were actually revolutionary, just not written the right way so that the argument is unconvincing. – Blaisorblade Aug 16 '16 at 16:11

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