The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

May 4, 2017

More on peer-reviewed journals: The difference between "Accepted Upon Revision" and "Revise and Resubmit"

Aspiring doctoral candidates and young professors generally try to get published in the peer-reviewed journals we've been discussing. The top scholars in the world are skilled enough to be able to get published in the top-tier journals at whim (or so it seems to us mere mortals!) while the rest of us will generally see a mix of successes and failures. Currently I reckon I'm batting .353 (6 for 17) with total submissions to peer-reviewed journals (including one that was recently accepted with revision), but 0-3 with tier-1 journals (as defined in the last post), so clearly I'm not exactly D. A. Carson or Andreas J. K√∂stenberger or [insert name of your favorite Bible scholar who writes a gajillion books and routinely gets published in snooty German journals]! Still, I'm grateful for those journals that have published my stuff, and here's hoping that they don't regret it! 

In a future post, I'll discuss which journals have given me the best feedback (here's a preview: Tyndale Bulletin is awesome in this regard; even though I've yet to be published with them, their feedback has always been helpful). In the meanwhile, though, let me share something I've discovered, namely the difference between "accepted upon revision" and "revise and resubmit," and why you should should jump for joy at the former and probably ignore the latter.

1. "Accepted upon revision" is what you will get probably 90% of the time your paper has been accepted (no matter how good your paper is, it's probably not so good that it can't use some tweaking!). "Accepted upon revision" simply means that the peer-reviewers liked it, think it's publishable, but need to see some changes. Always pay close attention to what the peer-reviewers say and try to follow their instructions and/or recommendations (there is a difference) to a T, when at all possible. If for some reason you think the two (or more) reviewers have contradictory opinions on what you should change, or if you don't think you can institute the changes without weakening your thesis, then contact the general editor (usually he or she is the person who e-mailed you to let you know your paper had been accepted contingent upon revision).

I repeat: "accepted upon revision" is a cause for rejoicing; however, you should expect to put in quite a few more hours of work to get it published. "Revision" is usually not light. For my paper for Science & Christian Belief (here), I received fantastic feedback from the two anonymous reviewers, but since this topic was not my specialty I put in, by my reckoning, approximately 12 hours of hard work revising and implementing their feedback before it made it into the journal. But it was worth it!

2. Now, "Revise and resubmit" is a totally different matter. This is, technically, a rejection, but a rejection with a glimmer of hope. This means that at least one of the reviewers (or, possibly, the editor) sees potential in the paper. This rejection will probably accompany some helpful feedback from the reviewers. It means, however, that you have to go through the whole submission process again (potentially with different reviewers).

Now, here's the thing; I've received 3 "revise and resubmit" judgments in my career so far. With one of them I think it was less the reviewers that saw potential and more the editor (though I was immensely grateful for the positive feedback from the editor). Despite all the effort I put into that revision, the reviewers were unimpressed; in fact, I got the sense they were even less impressed than the first submission. So that one failed. Likewise an earlier "revise and resubmit" that, if I recall, was reviewed by a committee (it's tough enough trying to impress 2 reviewers; but a whole committee of them?). Same thing: no go.

Consequently, for this most recent "revise and resubmit" rejection I've received (from a tier-1 journal), I believe I'm going to ignore it and try a totally different journal. I did receive some helpful feedback that I hope to implement, but otherwise I don't believe "revise and resubmit" has much potential. The problem is that if they weren't convinced of your thesis the first time, they probably won't be convinced of it the second time, at least short of a major re-rewrite that, for all practical purposes, creates a totally different paper. Since there is a degree of subjectivity involved in the review process (which can't be avoided), you probably have a better shot with totally new reviewers at a different journal than with impressing the same reviewers you failed to convince the first time. 

So, in summary, if you get a "revise and resubmit," you're probably better off going to a new journal (after implementing any suggestions you believe are helpful). I can definitely attest that reviewers at a totally different journal may very well be more sympathetic to your thesis. However, this post represents my own personal experience; I am very interested in hearing from those who had a "revise and resubmit" and successfully resubmitted to the same journal.

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