Why Reject At All?

One of the biggest categories for complaints to me regarding manuscripts is when I decide to reject a manuscript. Some authors accept the decision and move on with one of the options discussed in my previous post. Others, however, feel the need to argue their case with me and try to get the decision reversed.

First of all, please feel free to email me. I like to hear from you, even when it is a complaint about my decision. I think that, in nearly all cases, more communication is better than less, and an occasional email exchange about a paper is part of the job.

That said, the question is still out there: why reject at all? Why not always send it back as a major revision, and if it can’t be revised in the 2-month turnaround time, then it should be withdrawn and resubmitted when ready. Authors know how much time it will take to make the revision, so why should I prejudge this for them?

To continue the theme with another reason to opt for “rejection” rather than “major revision”: I reject papers because multiple major revisions could lead to very misleading “initial submission date” for the paper. That is, people could submit half-baked and incomplete papers just to get that date locked in, and then follow up with revision upon revision until it is finally acceptable. I really do not want that to be the case at JGR Space Physics.

There is an implicit understanding between author and editor at the time of submission. Authors are expected to be submitting a manuscript worthy of consideration for publication in the journal, and editors are then expected to give that manuscript full consideration for publication. If a paper is deemed to need serious work to be worthy of publication, then it wasn’t really ready for submission. The initial submission date, therefore, is not a true measure of when it was submitted as a manuscript worthy of full consideration for publication.

Thus, I reject some papers, as do the other editors. Note that as an author, I try and sometimes fail at meeting this implicit understanding. I was recently second author on a paper that was rejected (yes, this calendar year, with a member of “my” editorial board making this decision). After rereading the manuscript, though, I realized that it did not reflect the elements of a great paper, and contained too much extraneous information and was not focused on the original contribution to the field. I include this story to come to this: please don’t take it personally when your paper is rejected. Anyone can have his or her paper rejected. The editors are being as careful, thoughtful, objective, and unbiased as possible in their decision-making process.

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2 thoughts on “Why Reject At All?

  1. Pingback: Levels of Rejection | Notes from the JGR-Space Physics Editor-in-Chief

  2. Pingback: GRL Editorial Policy | Notes from the JGR-Space Physics Editor-in-Chief

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