I submitted a paper to a journal, after 2 months and some days of review I get a rejection with a referee report "I find the paper not suitable for the journal", without any further comments and without explaining the reason of the rejection. However the journal publish articles in the topic of my paper! I find it unfair. How could I react to it?

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    Write to the editor. S/he's in charge, the reviewer only recommends. – gerrit Jan 18 '18 at 19:05
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    How is the quality of the journal? Most will give more information in a rejection unless your paper is really, really bad. – jakebeal Jan 18 '18 at 19:05
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    @Silldo You did not actually answer the question that I asked. – jakebeal Jan 18 '18 at 19:07
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    The only thing you can do is respectfully contact the editor asking for clarification. It is unlikely to make much difference, but that is the only thing you can do to push back. – Thomas Jan 18 '18 at 19:07
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    @jakebeal, Not a high level journal in my fields. – Silldo Jan 18 '18 at 19:37

Submit somewhere else.

The accept/reject decision is made by the editor, based on the recommendations of the referee(s). In this case, the editor felt that the referee's opinion of unsuitability, even without any explanation, was sufficient to reject. Maybe the editor felt that the unsuitability was self-evident upon inspection. Maybe the editor trusts the referee's judgment so implicitly that they didn't feel the need to ask for any explanation. Maybe there were other referee reports that the editor decided not to share with you. We don't really know. But in any case, whether this decision was made well or poorly, I don't think there is anything you could say that would be likely to change the editor's mind.

You could of course decide not to submit to that journal any more, and you could share your experience with colleagues. You could also try to have your paper looked at informally by colleagues in the field, to see if it has severe flaws that you haven't noticed. You could even complain to the editor-in-chief that you don't think the editor is giving due consideration to the papers they handle (though this if the editor-in-chief agrees that the paper is self-evidently unsuitable, this will only annoy them).

But don't try to pursue publishing this paper in this journal - it's a waste of time.

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    +1 and I'll add that there's a chance the editor received confidential information. – Allure Jan 18 '18 at 20:36
  • @Allure like what ? – Silldo Jan 18 '18 at 20:43
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    @Silldo I can only speculate. An example of confidential information I've seen is "I have firsthand knowledge that the author is publishing without the consent of his co-authors, and did not acknowledge ___ funding agency ...". That led to an instant reject decision. – Allure Jan 18 '18 at 21:24
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    @Silldo Editors generally have the authority to pick and choose which parts of a referee report are actually shared with you (referees may not always be pleasant in their reviews, for example, and an editor may decide some things go a little too far without compromising the overall evaluation of the paper's merits) and some systems allow the referee to specifically request that certain things be kept between them and the editor only. Perhaps everything but the recommendation to reject fell into these categories. – zibadawa timmy Jan 19 '18 at 3:01
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    @Allure Considering the other question on here by the OP, something similar might just be part of the reasoning. – Voo Jan 19 '18 at 9:44

I agree with previous answers, but I like to add another explanation. A couple of times I had to review manuscripts that where very preliminary. In Spanish we say "está muy verde" (as if it was an immature fruit). At the time of writing my concerns I had realized that if the reviewers provide too much guide for further work, in fact his/her contribution will deserve to be listed as one of the authors, since he/she played a role in the study design, analysis or whatever. In this scenario a bunch of lazy (lost) researchers just can throw incomplete pieces of investigation to some of the many journals and harvest a lot of "free" guidelines, mentorship, name it as you like.

Although I have never done it, the best option for a reviewer that suspect that it is the case, is to reject without many details (to the authors), but writing his/her concerns to the Editor. In this way the Editor have the option of disclose the reasons of the rejection if he/she think that it is fair.


Looking at your original question and at some of your comments here, I wonder if it wouldn't be worth having a native speaker read through your paper, and make sure it's not rife with grammatical gaffes.

no my paper a good one

should be:

No, my paper is a good one.


Not a high level journal in my fields.

should be:

Not a high-level journal in my field.


I submitted a paper to a journal, after 2 months and some days of review I get a reject

would be better as:

I submitted a paper to a journal; after more than 2 months of review I received a rejection

You don't mention any co-author, so I assume you wrote the paper yourself. It could be that your findings are solid, but there are so many grammatical errors that some reviewers thought the work was unfit for publication. Perhaps they felt awkward saying that outright, so they didn't comment any further.

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    I think it's unlikely the paper was rejected because of English. If so, the editor could've rejected the paper without involving a reviewer. In my experience as well, reviewers have no qualms saying they think a paper's English is poor. – Allure Jan 19 '18 at 19:54
  • The OP does not seem to write that their paper was written in English. They might very well have sent it to a journal which uses their native language. – gilbertohasnofb Jan 20 '18 at 12:07
  • @zkb10347b et al.: Absolutely. I don't disagree with any of the other answers here, and I'm not presuming anything. Plus, as you said, the paper may not have even been written in English. or maybe it was written in impeccable English. Still, the OP is silent on these matters, and I thought it was worth wondering aloud if that could be part of the problem. If it turns out that the grammar is part of the problem, submitting to another journal might not yield much success. – J.R. Jan 20 '18 at 21:11
  • Exactly, I contacted the managing editors, and they told me that the English of the paper is not good but it still readable. Could you help me with the English of my paper? and they told me you should correct it and resubmit it if you want. – Silldo Feb 2 '18 at 14:22
  • @zkb10347b - There you go. Hunch confirmed. – J.R. Feb 2 '18 at 17:59

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