The five stages of grief towards accepting a rejection letter

Winda L Ng
Med J Aust 2017; 207 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/mja16.01377
Published online: 11 December 2017

Soldiering on in scientific publishing

Rejection is common in science, mostly from publication before graduation, and from both publication and grant application after graduating from the doctoral program. Based on observations during the 3 years of my doctoral studies (not necessarily my own experience), using the Kübler-Ross model on the five stages of grief,1 I have identified a set of characteristics associated with receiving a rejection letter from a scientific journal (Box).

  • 1 Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2 Monash University, Melbourne, VIC
  • 3 Deakin University, Geelong, VIC


Competing interests:

The author has no competing interests … Although she may or may not have a small collection of rejection letters from some scientific journals (just a few). When writing this manuscript, she had not been rejected by — yet — and hopes that this continues to be the case.

  • 1. Kübler-Ross E. On death and dying. New York: Macmillan; 1969.
  • 2. Chapman C, Slade T. Rejection of rejection: a novel approach to overcoming barriers to publication. BMJ 2015; 351: h6326.


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