Journals Desk Rejection - Reasons & Recommendations

Journals Desk Rejection - Reasons & Recommendations

When a scientific journal receives a new manuscript submission from an author, the manuscript is checked for plagiarism, and assessed carefully to determine if it fits the aims and scope of the journal. If journal representatives are enthusiastic about the work, the journal editor will appoint reviewers. Reviewers help determine the validity, significance and originality of the work, and can suggest improvements to the manuscript and the research. On their recommendation, editors will accept, accept with revisions, or reject a manuscript.

Some times the manuscript is rejected by the journal editors before sent out to reviewers; this rejection is known as a "desk rejection. Desk rejection is an important issue for all researchers, authors and editors. Most academic authors experience desk-rejection of their submitted manuscripts during their careers. For instance, The editor-in-chief of Geoderma journal reported that the editors of the journal reject approximately 81% of the manuscripts they receive. They also exhibited that about 70% of all rejections are not after peer review, they are by “desk rejection”; before seeking the opinion of reviewers.

For researchers on the receiving end of a desk rejection, this can be a painful and frustrating experience where the authors may have had high expectations for the submitted article. Equally, the decision to reject can be a time-consuming and extremely disappointing process for the editors, where a significant number of submissions are rejected at this initial stage, and authors have perhaps failed to align their submissions to the scope, quality and relevance of the journal.

Number of researches in the literature has reported key reasons for desk rejection. The reasons vary, but often are related to scope, novelty, quality of the reported work and/or quality of the academic writing. In a research paper "How to develop a quality research article and avoid a journal desk rejection", published in 2022, the authors discussed in detail the key reasons and useful recommendations to avoid desk rejection. These reasons can by summarized as follows:

  1. The submission is mismatched with journal aims and scope.

  2. Lack of novelty and significance.

  3. Plagiarism and Self-Plagiarism.

  4. Lack of adherence to journal / author guidelines.

  5. Poorly structured and developed manuscripts.

  6. Excessive or Inadequate manuscript length.

  7. Theoretical and/or methodological issues.

  8. Duplicate submission or previously rejected submission.

  9. Inadequate research contribution; lack of sufficient topical and theoretical novelty, as well as limited significance and relevance of results.

  10. Poor preparation including poor language, manuscript presentation, and ethical issues.

The author also provided many valuable recommendation to avoid desk rejection which can be summarized as follows:

- Submissions should demonstrate adequate novelty in terms of the research problem examined and theory utilized.

- Also, you must be able to convince the journal editors that your work offers a novel contribution to knowledge which extends understanding of existing theory.

- Submissions should have a very well-developed theory and methodology sections as both theoretical and methodological rigor are essential to demonstrate adequate contribution.

- The literature foundation of a paper should be clear. Demonstrate your knowledge of recent literature, theoretical foundations and developments.

- The submission must follow scientific rigor and avoid incorrect use of the statistical analyses.

- Avoid sloppiness, vague sentences and obvious mistakes; you need to review and proofread before submitting.

- It is recommended to decide on the target journals while structuring the paper, rather than leaving it to the end, and to ensure close alignment with the journal aims and scope. If a journal is not appropriate then don’t submit.

- Strictly adhere to journal or author guidelines. The manuscript must be formatted appropriately as per the formatting requirements of the journal website.

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