Well, if you see me around, you can congratulate me. I have officially received my first rejections as an aspiring academic author!

One of the conferences to which I submitted was kind enough to provide some cryptic review comments. The other said (paraphrasing) “your paper was reviewed by three experts and found wanting” — no reviewer comments.

It might be easy to become disheartened, but this is the academic way; should I expect anything less? So I will keep at it.

The idea is to critically review the rejected papers, look for opportunities to round-out, re-organize, and maybe be more patient and selective on the target publication/conference. Be sure to incorporate more references from that particular conference or publication (homage to the reviewers?) .

Several months ago, I had an exchange about my topic with a well respected cybersecurity educator. She went straight for the jugular: “Your topic might be fit for a term paper, but not a dissertation.” Imagine me reading that email: doubt, despair, defensiveness.

One of my supervisors encouraged “Engage. This is how she treats PhD candidates. She’s at least giving you her time and attention.” So, we went the rounds, I made my case. She shot down my arguments one by one, but then left me an opening. And I took it. In the end she was even conservatively complimentary.

I think part of the challenge is providing sufficient context so that people who think they “already know all about it” recognize they really might not — all while balancing what you, as the author, might not know yet either.

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