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Finding Success in Failure: What Lessons Did You Learn From Shopping Around for a Paper That Took a While to Find a Home?

SoAP Box: 
Finding Success in Failure

Fall 2020

Eric Pedersen, PhD

Eric Pedersen, PhD
University of Southern California

We spent a good year designing and implementing methods to locate cannabis outlets (i.e., brick-and-mortar stores that sell medical and recreational cannabis) in Los Angeles County for a larger research effort to examine whether density and proximity of cannabis outlets near one’s home was associated with their use of and attitudes towards cannabis. Given the effort spent on the methods, we wanted to write up what we had done and share it with others, so they would be able to replicate our methods in their own work. But the paper described a pretty niche topic and we had trouble getting the paper past editors’ desks. A few times we received reviews, which we found helpful, but ultimately the editors concluded that the paper was not a big enough contributor to the addictions field. Knowing that we wanted to share these methods via an open access journal to give as many researchers as possible access, we turned to a new journal, Cannabis, which is the flagship journal of the Research Society on Marijuana. After another tough round of reviews, it was ultimately accepted by Cannabis and is now available for public use. The paper was featured in a symposium at the annual meeting of the Research Society on Marijuana and has since led researchers to expand on that initial set of methods to improve them, including a follow-up methods paper published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research by our research team. It’s tough when you spend so much time on something and experience rejection, but every paper can have a home. You just have to keep looking for the best fit.  

In line with the recent trend of prominent academics and clinicians sharing their “CVs of Failures”, we want to hear about a time in your career that things didn’t go your way. For this next issue, I am hoping someone will provide insights into how to deal with receiving critical feedback from a mentor or colleague.  We are interested in learning how you handled this feedback, what you learned from receiving this feedback, and what advice you might have for others who find themselves navigating this same situation. Please limit responses to 500 words and send to by February 1, 2021.

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