In the past year I have, on three separate projects submitted to three different venues (both conferences and journals), received incredibly mixed reviews. In each case there have been two reviewers, one with a very positive review and one with a very negative review, and the editor has decided to reject the paper without soliciting a third reviewer. They all follow this general pattern:
One reviewer: This is useful, interesting work.
- "well-written, informative, to the point...quite helpful"
The other reviewer: I don't see the point of this work.
- "To be quite honest, I am not sure what the purpose of such an article is."
I have two questions.
- How common is this? It this just me or does this happen a lot? If the former, what can I do to help avoid it? All of these papers have included a discussion of the impacts/applications of my results and tied them to the existing literature. If this is pretty common, though, and it's just the luck of the draw then I'll keep plugging away and submitting.
- How should I incorporate this feedback? While any rejection is frustrating, usually it comes with the silver lining of suggestions to improve the project. But what on earth do I do when the feedback is simultaneously "this is a good/interesting project that I find helpful" and "this project is useless"? I don't want to just throw out these projects, especially since I think at least some other scholars find them helpful/interesting.
At this point I'm confused and disheartened and would really welcome feedback, especially from other scholars with the same experience.