Elizabeth and I were talking to Kris McDaniel last night about the similarity between rejection letters from journals and ‘Dear John’ letters from significant others who are soon to be ex-significant others. So: we offer the following translation manual for interpreting journals.
In place of ‘Thank you for submitting your paper X to our journal. Competition is intense, and . . .’ read ‘We need to talk . . . ’
In place of ‘We wish you every success in finding an alternative avenue of publication’ read ‘I’m sure there’s someone really special out there for you.’
In place of ‘Competition is intense, and although I read your paper with interest . . .’ read ‘I’m young – I need to consider all my options’
In place of ‘The referees thought the paper deviated from the aims of the journal’ read ‘It’s not you, it’s me’
In place of ‘Based on the advice we’ve received, we cannot accept your paper’ read ‘My friends don’t like you, so it’s over’
In place of 'The Editor would be prepared to consider a revised version ... ' read 'Perhaps we could hook up sometimes when I'm in town --- on a "no commitment" basis ... '
In place of ‘Please consider our journal in the future’ read ‘I hope we can still be friends!’
And in place of ‘I’m sorry to tell you that, upon consideration of the referees’ comments, your paper will not be accepted for publication’. Read: ‘I just don’t think this is gonna work’