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I recently submitted an article to a journal, which was later rejected. But the grounds for rejection were completely unfounded.

Also, a few oddities stand out with regards to the rejection. Normally, the rejection from this journal is signed by the editor but in this case it was unsigned.

We promptly emailed the editorial office asking for a clarification, as clearly there had been some misunderstanding. Since then, the assistant editor has continued to provide stereotypic responses which can be summarised as "we have emailed the editor with a reminder". Since our first correspondence with the editorial office regarding this issue, almost a month has passed.

Please note, the article in question is a short format article, and for this particular article type the journal normally responds to article submissions within two weeks.

This is an article coming out of my PhD and it has got me worried about what I can or should do to get a clear and concise response from the editor.

  • Rebuttal is a work on its own. I did it and very successfully once. But that was for re- positioning in a rather new facet of research line by some of us. Just move to a similar journal. – Alchimista May 1 at 7:29
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I would personally start wrapping my head around the idea that you will (a) not get the "clear and concise" explanation from the Editor-in-Chief that you are hoping for, and that (b) this publication is unlikely to appear in this specific journal. In short, it may be time to move on and think about alternative publication venues.

On this site, we have many questions related to appealing journal decisions, and (in cross-field agreement that is rather rare around here) most experienced researchers here agree that fighting a review decision that you perceive to be unfair is a wasted effort. Decisions actually being sent out "by mistake" is very rare (to the point that I am not aware of a single such case in my circles), and that the authors do not agree with the content of a review is basically never grounds for a re-evaluation of the manuscript.

The fact that the editor is not really getting back to you on this is another strong indicator that this is not a case of a silly mistake, but that the journal stands behind their decision and wants to cut short any possible discussion related to this manuscript.

You can definitely draw your own conclusions from this experience (such as to not submit to this journal again), but there is no formal recourse against the decision of a journal to reject a paper, and them backtracking on this is unlikely enough that you should not delay your manuscript further while you are trying to fight.

  • When I say unfounded reasons, I mean the Editor disregrading the existence of Figure 1A which addresses the concerns they have raised with the submission. Therefore, if it is not a mistake then it was deliberately ignored. Even in such cases, is it fruitless to fight the decision? – FoldedChromatin Apr 30 at 14:27
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    @FoldedChromatin Yes. – xLeitix Apr 30 at 15:12
  • Indeed. You claim they haven't seen the figure, but I suspect that they have and have, nevertheless, come to the conclusion that the paper should not be published. – Wolfgang Bangerth Apr 30 at 15:33
  • Hi, the journal editor finally got back to us. They admitted that there had been a mistake and reversed their decision. The article is now going out for review. :) – FoldedChromatin May 9 at 8:28
  • @FoldedChromatin Wow. This is a first for me. Glad it worked out for you. – xLeitix May 9 at 12:40

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