granovetter rejection!

You may think I’m talking about the Nobel. But I’m not. Here is the 1969 rejection letter and reviews of an early version of Granovetter’s “the strength of weak ties” paper. It was rejected by ASR.

I asked Mark if I could share this; he agreed. He also wrote, “I’d note also that this rejection illustrates the importance of framing. I framed the original draft, which I wrote in grad school, as a treatment of “alienation”, more or less in response to the ideas of Louis Wirth and others that the city was an “alienating” place. The editor therefore sent the paper to reviewers who seemed to be European-oriented alienation theorists, who rightly saw that I was not talking about alienation as Marx did, but failed to imagine that there might be any other valid way to talk about it, as you can see from their comments. When I later revised the paper for AJS, I pulled all references to alienation out, and it obviously fared much better.”

I figured many of you would find it interesting — seeing the early reviews of a classic. It’s also slightly heartening. Even our discipline’s most cited papers have been rejected! Perhaps you have a classic in your drawer you should dust off?

6 thoughts on “granovetter rejection!”

  1. “…it should not be published. I respectfully submit the following among an endless series of reasons that immediately came to mind.”

    Ouch! But letter is not only illustrative of the fact that good papers get rejected, but that sometimes good papers get rejected by reviewers who give good enough reviews to help the author turn their good paper into a great paper. This may be one of the best written reviews I’ve ever seen (harsh as it may be).

    My favorite part comes at the end: “Finally, if I have taken the liberty of extensive criticism, it is because the paper is at least provocative. That is what Author himself hopes for his paper. But it is not enough.”

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  2. I said this on twitter in reply to Shakha and Gabriel Rossman, but to put it here as well… GR noted correctly that “The most important part of a manuscript is the cover letter telling the editor what kind of reviewers are appropriate.” I added the corollary that there are lessons for editors here too: find the right reviewers and good things happen. Or in twitterish: The most important part of the editor is her ability to (fairly) identify reviewers. I also pointed out that it says nice (but unsurprising, if you know him) about Granovetter that he highlighted his own framing, does not complain about Schuessler’s choice of reviewers (control what you can…), and suggests that he reframed the paper itself a bit (and not just the letter).

    Anyway…, my two cents.

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