When a manuscript is submitted to a journal, it enters an intensive revision process. It has to pass through several checkpoints on the road to publication, and rejection lurks around every corner. If you are in the business of publishing scientific papers, chances are you’ve had at least one of your papers rejected by a journal.
Upon submission, a paper is first inspected by an editor, who performs the initial screening. Editors look at whether the paper falls within the scope of the journal to judge if it will be of interest to their readers. They check whether the authors followed the journal guidelines for structure and format, and also watch out for potential technical issues, like poor language.
Editorial rejection is often quick. If you get a rejection soon after submission, you probably got an editorial rejection. If the manuscript is deemed of sufficient quality and interest, it will go on to peer review. Peer reviewers perform a more in-depth assessment of the quality of the study and give recommendations for acceptance, rejection, or revisions.
With all the scrutiny a manuscript undergoes, it is useful to know the most common pitfalls identified by reviewers. Fortunately, there are a few peer-reviewed studies analyzing reviewers’ comments on rejected papers. Also, several of the main publishers, like Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley, have issued guides on the most common reasons for paper rejection.
Here we have compiled for you the most common issues identified in the revision process, or the top 10 ways to get your paper rejected.
Some of these points are certainly easy to avoid. Language quality, for example, is easy to fix, but often overlooked. Reviewers frequently mention the importance of presenting a well-written document. In fact, being well written was among the top strengths noted by reviewers on papers recommended for publication in the proceedings of the Research in Medical Education conference. Having a professional proofread and edit your work can mean the difference between rejection and success.
But not all of the issues are so easy to fix. Technical problems associated to the methodology employed can be more challenging. Unfortunately, they can also be quite common. According to an article published in Science Editor, poor study design was the number one reason for rejection of manuscripts submitted to medical journals, accounting or 71% of rejections.
These are, of course, not the only reasons for rejection. But keeping them in mind will certainly improve the odds of success for your manuscript.
– Written by Marisa Granados, Research Medics Editorial Desk –