Getting a rejection for your carefully written manuscript can be disheartening. But knowing why it happened is crucial for future success.
Rejections are the norm rather than the exception in the world of journal publications. Of course, there are a number of clearly defined reasons why a manuscript might not be accepted for publication, such as its lack of relevance, the size of the submissions pool, or the readership’s particular preferences.
Researchers should be aware that a number of factors well within their control can decide the fate of their manuscripts; these factors don’t always come down to how effectively the research is done, but rather to how well the manuscript is prepared for publication. Journal publishers often defer or reject manuscripts due to frequent issues with organization, content, and writing quality, some of which are illustrated in this article.
This article delves into common reasons why reviewers might reject your manuscript, offering valuable insights on how to avoid these pitfalls.
10 Common Reasons Manuscripts Face Rejection by Reviewers
1. IMRD format is not followed by the Manuscript
Manuscript rejection often stems from non-compliance with the IMRD format (Introduction, Methods & Materials, Results, and Discussion). While researchers are generally familiar with this standard in the hard sciences, critical content errors are pervasive. A 2013 study on medical journals revealed that over 70% of submitted manuscripts exhibited significant flaws in these sections, ranging from erroneous content to disorganized exposition.
To address this, it’s crucial to review the journal’s guidelines and compare them with your manuscript. Even with experience, it’s wise to revisit the specific content requirements for each IMRD section. Simple mistakes, such as including irrelevant study titles in the abstract or self-plagiarism by copying methods from a previous study, can lead to immediate manuscript exclusion. Utilize reliable online resources explaining how to appropriately structure each IMRD section.
The pursuit of fresh ideas is crucial for manuscript acceptance. A primary reason for rejection is the absence of originality. Reviewers seek innovative research that contributes something new to the existing knowledge base.
Failure to provide significant insights or replicating prior studies may result in rejection. To overcome this hurdle, strive to identify unique research gaps and design studies that address unexplored questions.
3. Title doesn’t match the focus of the manuscript
The title of your manuscript is the most apparent part because it appears at the top of the manuscript and in database searches. There are many different types of issues with the manuscript title, but they can be broadly classified into two categories: either the title is too long and unsuitable for the journal’s readership, or the scope or focus is different from what is provided in the body of the manuscript.
Consider the title as a slogan for an advertisement; it ought to be both accurate and attention-grabbing so that readers won’t feel misled by false advertising. Similar to this, the title of your article needs to be appropriate for the content of the study while also being brief enough to appear in searches of journal databases. Additionally, it needs to be “punchy” enough to compel subscribers and other researchers to click on it. Replace overused terms that explain the study’s methods (such as “a four-year longitudinal study,” “the long-term implications of”) with keywords that are most relevant to your work and that are simple for researchers to find.
4. Introduction is inconsistent with the Discussion and other sections
Ensuring coherence in scientific writing requires logical flow and precision. Proper organization extends beyond a linear layout in a manuscript. The content initiated in the Introduction significantly shapes the entire paper, influencing context, purpose, and the study’s scope.
Many researchers draft the Introduction before the rest of the manuscript, leading to omitted essentials or unnecessary content. Consequently, later sections may diverge from the claims set in the Introduction.
Draft the Introduction second to last, just before the conclusion This mismatch often stems from the natural evolution of ideas during research and writing, neglecting changes in the Introduction. Researchers may boldly outline possibilities in the Introduction but fail to address them in the Discussion or vice versa.
Lengthy citations in the Introduction might not be referenced later in the study. To address this, it’s advised to write the Introduction close to the paper’s end, after completing the majority of the Discussion and before crafting a brief conclusion. This approach ensures consistent information across sections and a comprehensive summary at the manuscript’s start.
5. Poor Literature Review
A thorough literature review is vital for framing your research within the context of existing studies.
If your manuscript lacks a comprehensive understanding of relevant literature or overlooks key studies, it may face rejection for not demonstrating its significance in the field. Take the time to explore and cite pertinent literature to build a strong foundation for your research.
6. Abstract content is inaccurate or lacks essential information
Errors or omissions in your abstract are more serious than in the Introduction. Since the abstract provides editors and publishers with the initial insight into your study (and might be the sole part they read if they consider it unsuitable), a flaw here can lead to instant rejection and a missed opportunity.
Draft the abstract last, the sequence of tasks is crucial. Instead of composing the abstract first, write it as the final step, ensuring all information is current and aligns with other sections. Examining the abstract is more straightforward as it is concise and short.
During editing, verify the accuracy and currency of information, and eliminate any grammar or style errors.
7. Missing Results
The Impact of Your Findings Matters Reviewers prioritize strong and meaningful findings that significantly contribute to the field. Manuscripts with inconclusive or weak results may be considered less impactful and, consequently, could be rejected.
Ensure your results are well-supported and clearly communicated, emphasizing their implications for the broader scientific community.
8. Inadequate Research Methodology and Design
The foundation of strong science lies in a strong research design and methodology. Flaws in design, methodology, data collection, or analysis can raise concerns about the validity and reliability of findings.
Reviewers prioritize rigorous and well-thought-out studies that withstand scrutiny. It is crucial to ensure that your research design aligns with your research question, and your methods are carefully implemented.
9. Lack of Significance
Making Your Impact Known Reviewers evaluate the potential impact of your manuscript on the scientific community. Failing to effectively convey the significance and relevance of your study can result in rejection. Emphasize the broader implications of your research and highlight how it advances the field.
10. Inadequate Presentation and Writing
A well-crafted manuscript is crucial for effective communication. Grammatical errors, unclear language, or a disorganized structure can impede the readability of your work. To avoid rejection based on these issues, diligently edit and proofread your manuscript before submission.
11 Failure to Comply with Journal Policies
Reviewers and editors expect authors to comply with the specific submission guidelines of the journal. Failure to do so, such as not meeting word limits or formatting requirements, can result in rejection without being evaluated on its merits. Pay meticulous attention to these details to enhance your chances of acceptance.
12. Ethical Concerns
Integrity is Non-Negotiable Ethical issues, including plagiarism, data fabrication, or inadequate consent procedures, can lead to instant manuscript rejection. Ensure your research adheres to the highest ethical standards to avoid such pitfalls.
13. Overlooking Journal Scope and Focus
Each journal has a specific scope and focus. Submitting a manuscript that does not align with the journal’s objectives can lead to rejection. Ensure your work fits within the thematic boundaries of the chosen journal.
14. Ignoring Reviewer Feedback
If your manuscript has undergone previous reviews and you neglect to address the feedback provided, it may face rejection. Acknowledging and incorporating constructive feedback demonstrates your commitment to improving the quality of your work.