Desk Rejection-5 ways to avoid It

Desk rejection simply means the denial of a submission to a journal or any academic publishing outlet. Desk rejection can taste like a bitter pill to swallow on young authors across the world, hence leaving them to deal with the crushing disappointment.

Getting a paper rejected isn’t unusual, Idowu Koyenikan writes “Failure is constructive feedback that tells you to try a different approach to accomplish what you want”.  When the journal editor is not able to understand your work, they are likely to reject your paper.

Authors wish to avoid the dreaded email: “After careful consideration by our editors, we regret to inform you that we must decline this submission on editorial grounds and subsequently have declined to send the paper out to external peer review”.

Although rejection is part of every academic journey, it is annoying when a paper is rejected because it demands work. To help you avoid the fall of desk rejection, this article summarizes common reasons for rejection without peer review.

Why Does Your Paper Gets Rejected?

There are many reasons for rejection, but these are the most common problems journals cite for manuscript rejection:

  • Poor language and manuscript presentation

Top international journals publish in English, which makes it important for researchers to deliver quality manuscripts devoid of language errors. Very high-ranking research can be rejected if the language is not well structured.

  • Flaws in research methodology/study design

Good research work needs to have a well-defined research questions that are based on sound literature reviews to make the research more productive and reproducible. Journal editors look at research methodology and study design when deciding whether to accept or reject manuscripts.

  • Inconsistencies and Length in Manuscript
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If your paper is too wordy, far beyond the limit often mentioned in the author guidelines, it is most likely headed for the rejection pile. Inconsistencies in your research manuscript such as the way you list references, mention organization names or other basic errors can make your paper get rejected.

  • Your findings were not novel enough

Journal editors reject a manuscript without sending them out for peer review because they feel it is not good enough for their journal. Also, they might not be convinced that your result is significant enough. Some top journals expect that for your research to be novel, it should not be published even if partly.

  • The study may be too narrow

Top journals, in particular, seek to publish studies based rather on large data sets supporting your conclusions. If your study seems narrow, it could be a major reason you face desk rejection.

  • Your paper may be badly written

Many authors face desk rejection because they didn’t communicate why their study is great and how it is a good fit for the journal. Most journals expect you to tell a story in your paper. A well-written paper should also be concise and have a consistent structure. Also, the common mistake people make is writing like an expert instead of writing to be understood.

How To Avoid A Desk Rejection

The following are tips to help you avoid the fall of desk rejection:

  • Avoid excessive use of jargon, make sure your manuscript is complete and all the sections are well presented, follow the recommended format. Also, use a comprehensive language check to weed out typos, grammatical and style errors.
  • Make sure to avoid an unambiguous statement of the problem, which highlights the importance and impact of your research. Before you start any research project, it is pertinent to conduct a comprehensive literature review to identify and apply the best-suited research methodology and scientific processes.
  • When you are submitting your manuscript, ensure you follow the author guidelines carefully. Keep to the recommended word count and avoid manipulating the fonts and spaces between the lines or stating an incorrect length in your application.
  • Compare the size of your study to previously published works in the journal.
  • Reread your paper with the scope of your target journal in mind.
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Desk rejection can seem like a lot of work for busy researchers. If you’re not sure why your paper got rejected by a journal, consider asking a mentor, trusted colleague or friend for their opinion on your paper.


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