This is guest post from Dr Liz Bennett. Liz is a Senior Lecturer at University of Huddersfield. She completed her doctorate in September 2012 and has submitted a couple of papers to journals based on chapters from her thesis. Here she reflects on receiving reviewer feedback.
When I first heard someone refer to feedback as being a ‘gift’ I thought it a ridiculous idea -that I should value someone criticising me or my work. However the idea feels particularly appropriate when receiving feedback on journal articles. The reviewers have taken time to read my work and have done so with care and attention. They are offering me their insights without any significant personal gain. They have provided detailed and helpful suggestions on where the work might be improved. They have challenged me and made me think more deeply and through this process my work is better. This is a gift: someone giving me something that I value and am grateful for. This is my rational response to accepting reviewer feedback.
There is also a personal and emotional dimension too. I experience getting reviews as personally challenging. The reviewers have identified areas of weakness and exposed them to me. My ideas and my writing are below the standard of others. “Needs substantial changes” seems damning. It is not that this is unexpected: I knew that critique would be likely and am willing to take on the feedback, but I experience it as challenging to my identity.
Becoming a published journal author is about my developing academic identity. It is about me and my ideas being credible in the academic world. If my work needs revising, if it is in some way flawed then doubt my sense of worth. And when the reviews appear to challenge some fundamental aspects of my thesis then question what I wrote for my doctorate.
Reviewer feedback is another challenge to overcome at the end of what was already a long journey to get my doctorate (5 years for my part time professional doctorate). Along that journey there were many challenges and set backs. Reviewer feedback is another one of those. It is tempting to want to move on to something new and more inviting rather than to revisit things which I thought were finalised two years ago. It requires stamina and self-belief to find the emotional resource to read the critique and to deal with this hurdle. It requires commitment to my ideas and determination to want to share these with the academic community to keep returning to the paper to do the revisions being.
How are stamina and self belief developed and maintained for a long time ? Are there ways you have found to achieve this?.