The Importance of Embracing FEEDBACK

Do you want to increase your chances of publishing in a top journal? Well, the message to early career researchers is to embrace feedback, network with your well-connected colleagues and to present your research well and often.

According to Georg and Rose (2016), obtaining feedback and constructive criticism improves academic research and increases its impact. This is especially true when the feedback is from colleagues who are socially active and well connected in their research field.  This research is interesting because feedback from academic peers on academic writing and seminar/conference presentations is often underestimated. Georg and Rose (2016) reconstructed the social network of financial economists from formal and informal collaboration in six leading financial journals and discovered that collaborating with a colleague who is more central in their social network improved the scientific impact of a research article. They analysed the acknowledgements from over 5800 research papers from prestigious financial journals and discovered that in 90% of these papers at least one form of informal collaboration was acknowledged.

Editors also prefer authors to receive feedback on their manuscripts before submitting them to a journal as it saves everyone time. Most universities and research institutes would say that this is standard practice but maybe we need to be more discerning about who gives us that feedback.

David Parker, a colleague at the  Auckland University of Technology (AUT) who advises postgraduate students on their writing, suggests that you should be clear about what sort of feedback you want. Do you require feedback on (a) content (b) structure and/or (c) style, grammar etc.? Different reviewers might have skills in these different areas. In addition, David supports open and honest feedback, not merely offering polite approval. Direct or honest feedback may not be easy for someone who is concerned about offending you, but they also have to be able to trust you not to take offence.

Nevertheless, accepting feedback, especially if it is critical, can be difficult.  However, you don’t necessarily have to agree with all the feedback and it is okay to query the comments. If you willingly accept the feedback and reflect on what you have written you may improve the probability of getting your research published in a reputable journal. In an environment where publishing papers and increasing citations is paramount, it may be the best advice you receive all year.

Don’t forget to acknowledge your reviewer and reciprocate by offering feedback on a colleague or friend’s writing. Reciprocity is a key aspect of collegial research.

Our next Thesislink blog post will focus on how to give constructive feedback to your peers.


Georg, C. & Rose, M.E. 2017. Feedback helps increase the impact of academic research, even more so when coming from well-connected colleagues. Retrieved 12 January 2017.

Georg, C. & Rose, M.E. (2016, November 30). The Importance of informal intellectual collaboration with central colleagues. Social Sciences Research Network (DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.2877586)


About Robyn Kannemeyer

Robyn Kannemeyer was the Researcher Development Coordinator at AUT from October 2016 to the beginning of March 2017. She has an MSc in biosecurity and conservation and is taking up a role at Landcare Research as an Environmental Social Scientist. She is passionate about conserving New Zealand’s unique biodiversity and recently returned from travelling through South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania where she climbed Mt Kilimanjaro.

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