29 April 2014 14 Comments
When you get rejected from a journal or conference, or your grant doesn’t get up, do you retreat to your cave?
Do you have a bit of a tantrum and declare ‘What’s the POINT?’ to innocent passers-by?
I’ve done my fair share of this, and it’s all perfectly normal and healthy for a time. But you have to eventually leave the cave and stop yelling at passersby.
I was talking to a colleague about academic resilience recently – the ability to ‘bounce back’ after papers are heavily criticised or rejected, grants not awarded, or promotions not given.
I’ve seen people respond so differently to these events, though they all start with the same fallen expression.
Some take the entire process as an indictment on their work and position within the field, swear off wasting their time with it all, and disengage.
Others revisit the critique and feedback, and start reworking their submission for the very next round.
Still others revisit the critique, acknowledge that the comments about track-record or scope of project (or whatever) have truth to them, and they take a step back to work up those aspects before investing more time in the application and submission (and waiting…) process.
These responses align with a particular researcher’s level of professional resilience and their ability to absorb setbacks. Someone who is a tenured professor, for example, has more opportunity to choose their response. Those in the research precariat or on fixed-term contracts, however, may not have the luxury of resubmission or reworking; there may be no support to do these things at all.