I applied for a graduate program and I was rejected, but there is evidence suggesting that there was a mistake in reviewing my application. Now the school seems reluctant to reconsider the application. What should I do? Is there any real chance of being reconsidered?

Here are some details about the story:

The reason for rejection was mentioned in my rejection letter, and apparently, it was a very objective and quantifiable admission requirement that they thought I don’t meet. But that was simply wrong, and they seem to have misunderstood (or even completely missed) one of my documents. It is a university in a different country, and apparently, they misinterpreted the document, which was issued by my undergrad school, and missed important information. I explained the document to them and they responded with a change in the reason, but the new reason in a way contradicts the previous one and it again seems to be about missing the exact same information related to that document. The new reason is also even more objective and almost purely bureaucratic, so I explained the policy of my undergrad university to them and what the information in the document means, but then I did not hear back from them anymore.

What should I do in this situation? So far I’ve just been explaining to them how there might have been some confusions, but with their most recent response, it seems to me that most probably, they misunderstood my documents, and might have even completely missed one of them! I’m afraid of pursuing this more seriously and directly because the department is one of my favorite departments and I like to keep the option of going there later in my academic career open.

I am 29. I’ve had informative, goal-driven, well written SOP, I’m guessing good recommendations. I have a masters in the related field (Computer Vision) with tier 2 publications. I’m in a research engineer job which can not add publications to my profile. I have been rejected by 13 US universities (all not Stanford, Berkeley). I had contacted the professors. Many did not respond though.

  1. How do I ask for recommendations again if I try next year?
  2. What can I add to my profile in this scenario?
  3. Are younger students preferred?
  4. Will there be sufficient opportunity if I complete my PhD after 35?

This July I will be in the fifth year of my PhD. I am doing my PhD from India in bioinformatics. Within my four years, one year was for coursework, so that I did not get to delve deep into research in that time. In our institute, every year we have an annual evaluation, where it is decided whether a student’s fellowship will be extended for the next year or not. Today, my advisor expressed to me that he is not happy with my work.

My current work status:

  • one published review article,
  • one article has been rejected four times in peer-review. Most of the times, the decision was based on technical issues raised by the only peer reviewer. I try to incorporate all the reviewers’ comments as much as possible.
    Not much of language related issues by reviewers.
  • two articles are ready for their first submission to journals (my advisor still not happy with grammar),
  • another article is in preparation.

I think the amount of work is pretty good to get an extension. When I asked him why he is unhappy, he said he had no question regarding the volume of work but my grammar mistakes are too much (I did tell him that I make my paper go through Grammarly (free version) and Microsoft word and also my husband who himself is a PhD). He also said that my papers are not getting accepted; hence he isn’t happy. Each draft that I write goes through about twenty times of checking by my advisor, yet they are getting rejected.
I am not getting any technical help from my advisor so I have to depend on the reviewers’ comments for this.

My point is: The work is in my hand but not paper acceptance right? It’s no one’s fault that paper isn’t getting accepted, right?

These uncertainties of probable fellowship discontinuation are stressing me out. I do not know what to do. Sometimes it feels like I will give up. Can somebody please tell me how to make my professor understand that paper acceptance is not in my hand and that he is increasing stress in my life which is doing me no good? How do I make him understand that grammar mistakes and papers not getting accepted are either too trivial an issue or out of my control (respectively), so that he does not discontinue my fellowship? Can someone point out to me where my mistake is?

What I have understood is that he wants me to work till 2021. My institute will allow me to submit my PhD before 2021 and not beyond that. But he wants to stop my fellowship. It’s like working without pay. He wants me to work without fellowship. He is not saying he doesn’t want me as a PhD student.

Also, my institute does not have the privilege of having a writing center or having someone who checks English before publishing. We do all of this alone. Indian universities mostly doesn’t have these priviledges. And mine isn’t even a university, it’s a research institute.

Now many of you may be thinking I am not working hard enough. I try to dedicate as much time possible to my research.

In a recent manuscript, we used a first principles calculation A and used it to explain experimental results B. A and B are based on existing methods, the novelty primarily lies in combining them and going from theory to real world application.

The reviewer gave several comments (fair & helpful), one of them being to divide the work into A and B. The decision was Reject & Resubmit. We (the authors) are divided on:

(1) Submitting A as a letter (short communication) and B as a full paper to the same journal, together, explaining the changes to the editor and attaching response to reviewer.

(2) Submitting A as a letter to a new journal and B as a full paper to the original journal, giving response to reviewer only to the original journal.

(3) Submitting an edited but undivided paper to a lower impact journal.

Which of these is the optimal option?

*Additional information:

The original journal has perhaps 10% acceptance ratio, the lower impact journal closer to 40% (anecdotal numbers only).

Besides the division, reviewer comments are significant and there is some chance that we may not be able to satisfy all the suggestions.

In this field, A and B are generally treated as separate domains, though this is changing now.*

Recently I was offered a PhD position at University X in Switzerland and I accepted it. I had been giving several interviews at several universities and this was the only decent offer I had in months, so I had no option but to accept it, and I liked it as well. Two weeks after accepting the offer and they having started the work visa process, I received a PhD offer from university Y (a much superior university and a great project), also in Switzerland! Now I plan to reject the PhD offer from university X, but the issue is its been three weeks since they started by process for work visa (I am an international candidate). Will my rejecting it at this stage affect my work visa situation at University Y? The offer I have from university Y is amazing and I really don’t want to lose out on it because of legal issues. Can someone kindly advise me on it?

Recently I was offered a PhD position at University of Basel and I accepted it. I had been giving several interviews at several universities and this was the only offer I had in months, so I had no option but to accept it, and I liked it as well. A week after accepting the offer and they having started the work visa process, I received a PhD offer from ETH Zurich! Now I don’t know what to do! Can I simply reject the PhD offer from university of basel after they have already started the admission process?the offer I have from eth is amazing and I really don’t want to lose out on it because of legal issues. Can someone kindly advise me on it?

Since this is a longer story, let me first give some background:

We submitted a publication to a Journal in the field of engineering. The article remained on the status “with editor” for more than two months. Our inquiries with the editor-in-chief and through the publisher’s contact form were not answered. When we contacted the assistant editor things got moving and we got a “major revision” with rather positive, but brief comments from two reviewers. The editor in chief handled the manuscript. We addressed all of the comments very carefully and resubmitted.

The next day we received a desk reject from the editor-in-chief as the handling editor. They said our article was out of scope and had a lack of novelty. Both of these issues have not been mentioned by the previous decision letter or the reviewers’ comments. In the contrary one of the reviewers specifically commented that the paper was on scope in this journal and the results would be useful for researchers and practitioners.

The journal does not have a formal way to appeal, and the author guidelines state that editor decisions are final. The editor in chief did not react to our request to clarify how our manuscript could have become worse, i.e. out of scope, after the revision. Due to a number of constraints, it is difficult for us to go to another journal.

If we would have gotten a desk reject on the initial submission in a useful delay, I would have accepted the decision. But I find it unprofessional to reject a revised manuscript on those grounds.

Given these circumstances, how should we proceed?

I recently submitted a paper to one of the Physical Review Journals (not Letters). I think that the result is both novel and important. After I uploaded the preprint to ArXiv, I received several emails from researchers in the field whom I do not know personally saying that they liked the paper and it is an important advancement in the understanding. People I personally know reacted similarly. I was sure that the paper would at least be reviewed considering that it seems to be important and that it is not submitted to PRL.

After two weeks, I got an email from the editor saying that it is being rejected without any review. My friend has got such rejection from the same journal, he received exact same text, which means that it was simply copy pasted. Now, I am a researcher who has a small number of citations, I have never published in Physical Review before and I am from a third world country. My feeling is that these things have biased the editor against the manuscript even though it is a good work if not groundbreaking and he should have at least sent it to reviewers.

I feel that I should write back to him these concerns. However, I have never done anything like this before and I am not sure if I risk lifetime rejection from the journal if I do this. I would be glad to hear the experienced researchers on this issue.

Suppose a journal editor rejects a manuscript with only one reviewer’s feedback, but the few comments the reviewer and editor made were almost entirely minor comments (e.g. “use these units for this figure axis”, or “this section heading is misleading”).

Suppose one author shows the feedback to several trusted faculty members at their institution who are familiar with the work, and they say it looks like the reviewer, the editor, or both are feeling threatened by the paper and may be trying to make sure it doesn’t get published quickly, if at all.

A similar question has been asked here (How to deal with an unethical editor?), except that question was asking about an editor who was making up comments for a reviewer. Suppose the authors have no reason to believe that the editor is making up comments for a reviewer, as in that question, but do have reason to think the editor may have too quickly dismissed the paper (after only one reviewer’s comments rather than waiting for the second reviewer, and based on very minor details that should have prompted minor revision). Suppose, for the sake of the question, that the editor and perhaps the first reviewer indeed appear to be acting in bad faith, which of course would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove. In other words, what if several experienced researchers suspected real foul play, rather than a grad student feeling miffed about a rejection?

What options are available to the authors in such a situation?


This question is most useful to the community when it is asked generally, so I originally omitted details. Several have asked, so I am including vague details here, but my question is not about my colleague’s situation — it’s intended to be general.

I read the feedback. In my colleague’s case, the editor rejected the paper based on the feedback from a single reviewer and their own reading of the manuscript — without waiting for the feedback from the second reviewer. Most of the comments were easily addressed (add a sentence here, change units on this figure, rephrase this confusing sentence there, etc.). A comment about some inconsistency in their approach seemed legitimate, and a section title was confusing. The first author, a grad student, sent the feedback to me and the faculty they talked with to see what we thought. There was absolutely nothing about the feedback that indicated it should have been rejected rather than sent back for revision. I’m also a grad student, so I do think much of my own opinion, plus it’s not my field. Instead, I trust that the senior faculty who reviewed the feedback and called it highly unusual know what they are talking about. The editor was in a different (tangentially-related) field than that of the paper.

My paper was accepted for publication in a journal. I have also received an acceptance letter and even I have filled out the copyright form. The corresponding editor first told me “Your paper is published in one of the volumes of 2017” and next time said that my paper is “published in 2018”, but now I have received an email that my paper is “rejected because the paper is not in the aim and scope of the journal”!!!

Really I do not know, what should I do?