I sent that one (& only) paper I wrote last year into a conference, and I just heard back from them–another rejection. I wasn’t that surprised, as that paper had been rejected by two journals, but it still hurt. My plan all along was to submit it just so that I could get some feedback. Being out of academia has also meant not having colleagues around to give me feedback. I was never great about letting anyone else read my work, but after a couple of rejections, I figured it would be helpful to have some outside perspectives on it.

I made the mistake of looking over the feedback in the morning, quickly on my phone while I tried to drink a cup of coffee amongst the chaos of getting two kids ready for school/playgroup. I should have waited to look at it until I had time to focus and really think about the comments. Instead, I just got the sting of criticism without allowing time for any constructive feedback to sink in.

Four reviewers read my work, and all of the comments were pretty painful. Some were contradictory–the literature review was “very limited” for one, “adequate” for another, and another suggested that it “could be revised to be less of a ‘review’ and more of an argument for why looking at congressional tweets help us understand moments in US political discourse.” That sounds like a justification for the study, rather than a lit review…

More than one reviewer commented that the scope was too narrow and “wondered if it would be interesting to an international audience”. The thing is, I know my paper is US-centric, but school shootings are US-centric.

I’m just so fed up and depressed about it all–it’s not just the conference, although that would have been a nice, much-needed networking opportunity. It’s the cumulative effect of one failure after another. It’s the job applications that go unanswered and the failed interviews that got my hopes up. It’s the hours and days and weeks I spent researching and writing this paper, all wasted. Is this all just a complete waste of time–the PhD, the mountain of student loan debt, the effort wasted on publications that will never see the light of day?

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