I wrote a paper – Mediascapes, Conscientisation, and Personal Foresight (PDF) – rejected by both Futures (Elsevier) and JFS. I had three goals: (1) respond to the debate about mediascapes and futures work; (2) reflect on personal ‘shaping’ experiences in the media that have also contributed to foresight practitioner work; and (3) contribute to theory-building on conscientisation and foresight. The paper contained personal details about my editorial stint with Disinformation and other stuff I rarely talk publicly about.
Futures felt the paper belonged in a digital culture journal. JFS reviewer one wrote: “This is a rambling, overly detailed resume/autobiography. In my judgement it is not a JFS article. It is poorly written, does not define key terms.” JFS reviewer two wrote: “Although this is quite an interesting read it does not belong in an academic Futures journal. Firstly, it has little directly Futures content, any connections being limited to quoting a few authors in the field. Secondly, it is little more than a personal journey, or to be less charitable an ego-trip.”
Whilst I take both reviewers’ comments on-board, they minimised the article’s second goal (auto-ethnographic reflections as a criterion to develop personal foresight). Both reviewers engage in self-policing the field’s boundaries and journal content (an important editorial function – but one where authors and reviewers may have different mental models). Problems like defining key terms can often be solved with a single sentence or two. Both reviewers overlooked the deep connection posited between futures and conscientisation frameworks. I hope others can extract some value from the article: I have other material to write. The experience informed these suggestions on how to handle article rejections.