A guest editor at a peer-reviewed academic journal solicited me to write a paper. I initially hesitated for lack of time. But the editor's invitation was courteous. So I sent an abstract, which was accepted by the editor.

I submitted the 6k-word paper a few weeks later, taking care to comply to the submission guidelines (I downloaded the journal's CSL file for bibliographic references, for example).

I just received a rejection letter. I know an invitation is not a ticket to bypass the reviewers. Still, I am rather stunned. I'll get over it, but I was wondering how common it is for academic journals to reject solicited papers?

  • 6
    I've seen this happen once. A paper submitted for a special issue of a journal was rejected, not because it was a bad paper but because it was on a topic quite different from the special issue. Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 1:31
  • 9
    Surely the editor and reviewers said why the paper was rejected. It's unlikely that any paper gets rejected after review solely because of wrong template or citation formatting. Unlike content, that stuff is easily fixed.
    – user71659
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 3:02
  • It's uncommon. I don't think this is a good question because there won't be any statistics about this and people can only give you some anecdotes.
    – user9482
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 11:07

2 Answers 2


This is not common, but it certainly does happen. I know a small number of people who have had their invited submissions rejected. Whether it is a likely possibility in particular instance will depend on how many invitations the editor(s) send out—and, correspondingly, how well they know the potential contributors and their work. If the invitations are kept to a relatively small group of individuals familiar to the editor, it is less likely that anyone will submit a manuscript that is of low quality or is not topical.

Whether this is likely to happen also depends on how the submissions are being evaluated. Sometimes, an expert guest editor for a special issue may take care of all the refereeing themself. However, this will not work if the topic is too broad or there are too many submission. I was actually responsible for getting a low-quality invited paper rejected from a special issue once, when I was asked to referee it. The work was simply too shoddy to merit publication in any venue.


It is not common, but I have encountered one of such case before. The author of the submitted paper is the guest editor of the special issue which this paper was submitted. I sent this paper for peer review and received negative comments from 2 reviewers. Hence, the academic editor decided to reject this paper. Usually what I will do in such case is to ask the academic editor to give the author one chance in revising and improving the paper. And usually this will work. But in this case, the reviewers' comments are too negative and it was unlikely for the author to improve the paper and address their concerns, so it was rejected. I feel very bad when writing the rejection letter to the author, but I have no choice.

My answer to OP question is, check the reviewers' comments. Are the comments negative? Are they valid? If the comments are negative overall, then it could be the reason for the reject decision.

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