One of the most difficult tasks as an editor or reviewer is rejecting a manuscript. No author wants to hear that their hard work has been deemed unsuitable for publication, but manuscript rejection is a necessary part of the publication process. In this article, we will cover the most common reasons for rejection, the rejection process, best practices for rejecting a manuscript, and how authors should respond.
Reasons for Manuscript Rejection
There are several reasons why a manuscript may be rejected. Some of the most common ones include:
Lack of Originality
One of the most common reasons for manuscript rejection is lack of originality. If a manuscript doesn’t add anything new to the field or the research question has already been answered, it’s unlikely the article will be accepted for publication.
Poor Research Design
Another common reason for rejection is the poor research design. Manuscripts that lack a clear research question, have inadequate sample sizes, or fail to control for confounding variables will also likely be rejected.
Thirdly, manuscripts that have inadequate or incomplete data will almost surely be rejected. This can include missing data, inconsistent results, or poorly collected data.
Poor Writing Quality
The poor writing quality is another common reason for rejection. Manuscripts with grammatical errors, poorly structured, or difficult to read will not be accepted for publication.
Not Meeting Submission Guidelines
Finally, manuscripts that don’t meet the submission guidelines will be rejected. This can include failing to format the manuscript correctly, not including all necessary components, or not following the journal’s specific instructions.
The Rejection Process
The editor’s role in manuscript rejection is crucial as editors are responsible for ensuring that the journal only publishes high-quality research that meets the journal’s standards. The rejection process typically involves the following steps:
- Desk Rejection: the editor will review the manuscript and decide whether it suits the journal. If it doesn’t, the manuscript will be rejected at this stage.
- Peer Review: if the manuscript passes the desk rejection stage, it will be sent out for peer review. The reviewers will evaluate the manuscript and provide feedback to the editor.
- Editor’s Decision: based on the feedback from the reviewers, the editor will decide whether to accept the manuscript for publication. If the decision is to reject the manuscript, the editor will provide the author with feedback on why the manuscript was rejected.
Best Practices for Rejecting a Manuscript
When rejecting a manuscript, it’s important to follow best practices to ensure that the author receives constructive feedback and is not discouraged from submitting future manuscripts. Here are some best practices for rejecting a manuscript:
- Providing constructive feedback: when rejecting a manuscript, provide specific feedback on what needs to be improved. Suggest how to improve the manuscript and point out any strengths the author can build upon.
- Keeping emotions in check: keeping emotions in check when providing feedback is crucial. Avoid using language that may come across as dismissive or hurtful. Remember that the author has put a lot of time and effort into their work.
- Providing clear reasons for rejection: be clear and concise when explaining why the manuscript was rejected. This will help the author understand what they must work on for future submissions.
- Avoiding personal attacks: never attack the author personally. Focus on the manuscript itself and the reasons why it was rejected. Provide feedback in a way that is constructive and not hurtful.
In conclusion, manuscript rejection is common in academic publishing, and handling it professionally and constructively is essential. Editors should provide specific feedback to authors and avoid personal attacks or dismissive language, while authors should take the time to process the rejection, thank the editor for their time, and consider resubmitting after making revisions.
By following best practices for rejecting a manuscript, editors and authors can maintain positive relationships and work together to advance the field of research. The manuscript submission and review process can be challenging, but by working together, editors and authors can ensure that high-quality research is published and shared with the wider scientific community.
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