How to get your paper rejected quickly

I sent this rejec­tion let­ter this morn­ing about a paper sub­mit­ted to the Inter­na­tional Jour­nal of Forecasting.


I am writ­ing to you regard­ing man­u­script ????? enti­tled “xxxxxxxxxxxx” which you sub­mit­ted to the Inter­na­tional Jour­nal of Fore­cast­ing.

It so hap­pens that I am aware that this paper was pre­vi­ously reviewed for the YYYYYYY jour­nal. It seems that you have not both­ered to make any of the changes rec­om­mended by the review­ers of your sub­mis­sion to YYYYYYY. Just sub­mit­ting the same paper to another jour­nal is extremely poor prac­tice, and I am dis­ap­pointed that you have taken this path. Review­ers spend a great deal of time pro­vid­ing com­ments, and it is dis­re­spect­ful to ignore them. I don’t expect you to do every­thing they say, but I would expect some of their com­ments to be helpful.

I am unwill­ing to con­sider the paper fur­ther for the Inter­na­tional Jour­nal of Fore­cast­ing. Read the pre­vi­ous reviews to know why. And before you sub­mit the paper to a new jour­nal, take the time to con­sider the reviews you have already been given.


Rob Hyn­d­man
(Editor-​​in-​​Chief, Inter­na­tional Jour­nal of Fore­cast­ing)

I have writ­ten on this issue before. The peer-​​review sys­tem requires peo­ple to donate con­sid­er­able amounts of time to writ­ing reviews. In gen­eral, they do a great job and pro­vide help­ful com­ments. So it really annoys me when authors treat the sys­tem as a game with the aim to get a paper accepted with min­i­mal work, and with no inter­est in learn­ing from feed­back.

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  • JMM

    Nice!! Are you reject­ing it com­pletely on prin­ci­ple? Or would you review it if you received an apol­ogy and a draft that incor­po­rated pre­vi­ous suggestions?

    • Rob J Hyndman

      I don’t want to com­ment on this paper specif­i­cally. In gen­eral, I would con­sider a resub­mis­sion in a case like this.

  • Tao Hong

    I’m glad that you rejected paper directly with­out pass­ing it to the review­ers. I have had the expe­ri­ence of review­ing and reject­ing the SAME paper at least three times at dif­fer­ent places as a reviewer, which is def­i­nitely a waste of time. Because there are too many jour­nals today, some­times authors play the game of resub­mit­ting the same man­u­script to dif­fer­ent jour­nals to try the luck.

  • Paul Rubin

    I had the “dual” expe­ri­ence. My first paper was sum­mar­ily rejected by the first jour­nal to see it. The review­ers did not pro­vide much action­able advice, but I fixed what I could and sub­mit­ted it to a dif­fer­ent jour­nal. The review I received from the sec­ond jour­nal, in toto: “I didn’t like it the first time I read it, and I still don’t like it.”

  • asdir

    I agree to your basic sen­ti­ment, but would like to add the fol­low­ing caveat.

    Imag­ine a case where peer-​​reviewers of the pre­vi­ous jouranl were cho­sen poorly and rejected the paper out of hand or on super­fi­cial mat­ters (or, even worse, for polit­i­cal rea­sons). In the­ory authors should protest against the bad reviewer, but hon­estly, which jour­nal will ever admit that a reviewer rather than the author is wrong (check you own feel­ings: did you think up to this point that I might be a rejected author purely com­plain­ing? What does that say about the patience of an edi­tor in this case?).

    It would be sim­pler just to resub­mit to another jour­nal in the hopes to receive a rea­son­able review, don’t you think?

    • Rob J Hyndman

      As an edi­tor, I do not always side with review­ers. If the author comes back with a good expla­na­tion and cogent argu­ment for why the reviewer is mis­taken, I will some­times be per­suaded. It depends of course on how highly I rate the reviewer.

      I under­stand that authors will some­times just choose to take their papers else­where, and as I stated in this post, I do not expect that they make all the changes a reviewer asks for. But if a reviewer has pointed out typos, or other sim­ple errors, I think the author is obliged to at least fix those issues before sub­mit­ting some­where else.

  • asdf

    While I tend to agree with you in prin­ci­ple, I’d also have to sug­gest that maybe you should try to give peo­ple R&Rs if you want them to actu­ally revise the paper if you think that the con­tri­bu­tion is good but the exe­cu­tion is bad. If the con­tri­bu­tion is bad then there’s no point for revi­sions. I’ve had the hor­ri­ble expe­ri­ence of hav­ing my paper rejected by ref­eree A in jour­nal X, incor­po­rated his com­ments and sub­mit­ted to jour­nal Y only to have my paper rejected by ref­eree B whose com­ments go com­pletely 180 from ref­eree A. So no, I’m afraid that unless I get an R&R or I truly feel that there’s a revi­sion that would gen­uinely improve my paper, I won’t take the time to revise before sub­mit­ting else­where. The process is already ridicu­lously long as it is. I won’t just revise because some­one wants me to run 3 more regres­sions or change a mar­gin­ally impor­tant assump­tions that have noth­ing to do with the cen­tral goal of the paper but they asked for it because they didn’t know what else to write as an excuse to reject my paper.

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  • S.Sharkawy

    What if the paper is rejected because it doesn’t meet the aim and scope of the jour­nal, and the edi­tor rec­om­mends sub­mit­ting it to another jour­nal (name is pro­vided) with­out giv­ing much details?

    • Rob J Hyndman

      That is not the sit­u­a­tion described in my post.