A study on 923 journals published between 2006 and 2009 showed that manuscripts initially rejected for publication received more citations than those accepted immediately. Furthermore, manuscripts that were rejected by one journal and then submitted to another and accepted for publication generally received more citations than manuscripts published in the first submission attempt in this second journal.
A reasonable explanation for this case could be that rejected manuscripts are rewritten and improved in line with the reviewer and editor comments in the first peer-review and thus become more effective studies. Another explanation could be that the greater the time span between the submission and the publication, the more the relevant study is mentioned in conferences. Lastly, it could also be argued that studies which contradict the status quo are generally rejected at first. An example of this is when studies involving Nobel prize-winning discoveries are rejected in the first submission. Ground-breaking studies of over 20 Nobel prize winning researchers are reported to have been rejected in the first submission try. Considering that even Nobel prize-winning discoveries are rejected in the first submission try, it is not surprising that other studies that contradict the status quo are rejected.
The English nephrologist Peter John Ratcliffe’s study presenting findings on how cells react to the changes in the oxygen level was rejected by the journal Nature in 1992, but 27 years later, Ratcliffe, along with William Kaelin Jr. and Gregg Semenza, were awarded the Nobel prize for their promising discoveries related to the fight against anemia, cancer, and many other diseases.
As can be seen, it was not until much later that the value of some studies were appreciated, a phenomenon not limited to the field of medicine but one that occurs in various disciplines. Hans Krebs’s study on the citric acid cycle, which is also referred to as the “Krebs cycle”, won him a medal in 1953 but was rejected by the journal Nature in 1937 on the grounds that there were too many pending manuscripts. In 1988, seven years after the death of Krebs, an anonymous editor published a letter in Nature defining this event as the biggest gaffe to have been committed by the journal.
Rosalyn Sussman Yalow, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1977 thanks to her groundbreaking findings on insulin and antibodies, had received feedback many years prior from the Journal of Clinical Investigation stating that her findings were dogmatic, and that the relevant data were not precise.
Chemist Richard Robert Ernst was rejected twice by the Journal of Chemical Physics. His study outlining Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, which is extremely useful for chemists and biochemists, as it reveals the details about the structures and dynamics of molecules, was subsequently accepted for publication by the Review of Scientific Instruments and resulted in Ernst winning the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Theoretical Physicist Peter Higgs’s study about the eponymous “Higgs model” was rejected by Physics Letters, but following the studies he did in 1966 and after CERN researchers found evidence supporting the presence of the Higgs boson in ATLAS and CMS experiments, he won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2013.
Even scientists whose studies are taught as textbooks have received rejection responses, and even the titles of the studies have sometimes been the reasons for rejection. Yet, the rejections of the study by Johann Deisenhofer, Robert Huber, and Hartmut Michel on photosynthesis, the study on Cherenkov radiation, and Hideki Yukawa’s study on meson, as well as the initial rejection of Stephen Hawking’s study on black hole radiation, are indisputably considered to be among the major historical blunders of the scientific world. From these examples, we can draw the following conclusion: authors whose studies have been rejected but who believe their studies are worthy of publication should continue to develop their studies in line with the feedback they receive and continue to submit their studies to journals until they are published.