When to Abandon a Paper.
A paper I’ve been resubmitting to various journals has now been revised and rejected so many times that I no longer even really remember what it’s about. Ok that’s not true. But it’s a very small result, not particularly novel, and apparently not well written. I think it’s safe to say that the paper, in anything like its current form, is garbage. It’s been rejected from good journals, and mediocre journals, and brand new journals. I’m unwilling to send it to a straight-up bad journal.
I had hoped to get this put out there as a starting piece to a bigger set of papers. But the fact is, it’s not publishable in anything like a good traditional journal. I have no doubt that I could get it into PLOS One (the methods are sound). But I’d have to put up my own money for the OA fees, because it was done as part of a consulting gig and the institution I did it for isn’t going to pay (but certainly doesn’t qualify for a need-based exemption). But the truth is, I’m not sure I really care.
This isn’t a novel result that people need to see in order to do good work. It’s just a thing we did. Not every thing I do needs to be published. That’s just ego, right? Now, I have a co-author who would definitely benefit from it, and so if he is interested in putting it out there again, I certainly won’t object. But I don’t think that this is worth the couple of hours it’ll take for me to reformat and resubmit. It’s just not very good.
Not everything I do has to be great. I did a job. The people paying me were very happy with the job. Maybe that’s good enough. Maybe I don’t need to choke the pages of another journal with my junk. Make room for someone who did something good, instead of resubmitting again and hoping I get lazy or credulous reviewers. When do you decide that something you did just isn’t interesting? For me, it’s now. I wrote a boring, unimportant paper. If you reviewed it, I’m sorry.