Episode #70

What to Do When Your Qualitative Article Gets Rejected

Has your qualitative research article been rejected or given a painful revise-and-resubmit? Here are the 5 things you should do next.


What should you do when your article gets rejected, or you’re given a painful revise-and-resubmit? I’m talking specifically about qualitative research here, but the basic principles can be applied for all kinds of research and writing. In episode 9 I lay out the step by step plan I use to process and respond to feedback and writing criticism, so check that out if you haven’t yet. 


5 Things to Do After Receiving a Rejection or Revise and Resubmit for Your Qualitative Article


#1: Think About Fit

Some journals might seem like a good fit by topic, but you’ll want to delve a little deeper. Who is on the board and what kind of work have they published? What kinds of things has the journal been publishing in the last 2-5 years? Can you tell if the journal has an aversion to qualitative research in general? 

#2: Analyze Feedback

What is the feedback really saying? Is it trying to help you improve your article, or is it expressing a core difference in belief about how knowledge is made (i.e., they don’t put stock in qualitative research)? If it’s a core difference, you’re not going to convince them to accept your work. Better to move on. 

#3: Dig Into Your Disciplines

Qualitative research is highly interdisciplinary in nature. Dig in to the different disciplines your article touches on. Make a list of each one, then look for journals that might be a closer match to one or another of those disciplines. You might need to make some revisions, but consider submitting under one of those other areas.

#4: Double Check the Rigor

If you listened to episode 69 you know that this was a stumbling block for me with the first article I tried publishing. As qualitative researchers, it is especially important for us to clearly establish the rigor of the research. On my journey, rejection with feedback and 7 years of development as a scholar got me where I needed to go. 

If you’d like a slightly quicker route, I’ve got a shortcut for you: My friend Maira Quintanilha’s course, Qualitative Research Blueprint is enrolling now. This course is for qualitative researchers who want to hone their research skills as well as anyone looking to add qualitative research to their repertoire. (More info on this fantastic opportunity below.)

#5: Try Again

If you get a rejection with feedback, be sure to analyze that feedback before you decide what move to make next. Try not to read into a desk rejection with no feedback. Go through the steps outlined above and submit to another publication that might value qualitative research more highly, or be a better disciplinary fit. Pivot, and send it someplace else!

“If you feel confident in the qualitative rigor of your work…then it really is best not to spend a lot of time overthinking…when you get rejected.” 

Bonus Step: Hone Your Qualitative Research Skills

Confidence in the rigor of your research is so important! If you’ve received feedback about clearly expressing rigor (like I did), or if you’ve struggled in any way with your qualitative research, you are going to want to sign up for the Qualitative Research Blueprint course by my friend Maira Quintanilha which is now open for enrollment!

In this course, you will gain the confidence and skill to achieve desired impacts with your qualitative research project by learning how to design, implement and write rigorous, impactful research. You’ll learn everything from data collection and analysis techniques to methods for writing up findings and research theory and strategy.

QRB is NOT a one-size-fits-all online course. There is an emphasis on each individual attendee and project, as well as community building and support. 

If you sign up using my link, you’ll get these great bonuses from me!

  • Fast Action Bonus (must sign up by Friday 3/12/21): my recorded workshop 5 Strategies for More Qualitative Publications
  • First access to my brand new Writing Sprint Blueprint course, which walks you through how to set up a 2 week writing sprint to make major progress on your writing project
  • Access to my Funding Formula training, which is usually reserved for Navigate clients only. Learn how to ask your institution for whatever you need, including letter template and tips. 

Be sure to use this link to get these great bonuses in addition to Maira’s comprehensive qualitative research teaching. 

Pulled in a thousand directions and can’t seem to carve out time to write? Download my 10 Ways to Make Time to Write cheat sheet for ideas to implement today!

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