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Rejecting highly cited papers: The views of scientists who encounter resistance to their discoveries from other scientists



We studied the views of scientists who experience resistance to their new ideas by surveying a sample of 815 scientists who are authors of highly cited articles. The 132 responses (16.2%) received indicated that only 47 scientists (35.6%) had no problems with referees, editors, or other scientists. The most common causes of difficulty were rejection of the manuscript, and scepticism, ignorance, and incomprehension. The most common arguments given by referees against papers were that the findings were an insufficient advance to warrant publication, lacked practical impact, were based on a wrong hypothesis, or were based on a wrong concept. The strategies authors used to overcome resistance included obtaining help from someone to publish problematic papers, making changes in the text, and simple persistence. Despite difficulties, however, some respondents acknowledged the positive effect of peer review.