Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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On rejection

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What I am about to say is meant with the greatest of kindness but at the same time can be seen as a slap in the face.  The well-known research on the millennial generation has shown that for many they have never been told “NO” or have been turned down for something that they sought.  Now let me say this is an “on average” statement that does not apply to every member of that generation and to say it does would be to repeat the same problem most capital markets researchers have! (have to get a dig in somewhere here).

But “rejection” is part of the business of research.  Not every “great” idea will work out leading to journals rejecting your research, especially if you try to put B level research into A level journals.  But what prompts this entry is the rise in the number of appeals that I hear senior journals are receiving.  In my years at CAR (six with Gord Richardson and three on my own) we rarely had appeals, maybe one or two during Gord’s six years and I cannot recall any in my three years.  Yet I hear that multiple appeals a year are being received at the top journals these days.  I think it has something to do with my observation above.

More direct evidence came my way recently with hearing from our PhD admissions folks a large spike in applicants asking about why they were rejected from admittance to our PhD program, some asking multiple times for clarification.  The admissions folks told me it had been building up slowly in recent years but this year was at a peak!  Again, experience with rejection is not common for this generation and hence disbelief that you are turned down from something you want causes an over-reaction.

So folks, chill out! Accept “you can’t always get what you want” as a famous song in the baby boomer generation says.


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