I am an undergraduate student, and i had submitted a paper manuscript to Mathematics of Computation, I choose this journal because of my supervisor, who advised me to submit my paper to this journal, but 2 weaks after the submission I received the following email.

Dear Professor XXX,

This message concerns the manuscript XXXX by XXX submitted to Mathematics of Computation.

We regret that we cannot consider it, in part because at present we have a large backlog of excellent articles awaiting publication. We are thus forced to return articles that might otherwise be considered. Thank you for considering Mathematics of Computation.


XXXX Managing Editor, Mathematics of Computation

--- Sent via EditFlow by XXXX [email protected] }}

So, how to deal with this situation ?

Are there any positives/negatives that can be taken ?

Should I submit the paper to another journal? Or just submit it to the same journal at a later time?

Note that I informed the editors and the referees that I am an undergraduate student.

  • 8
    That letter contains almost no information other than the rejection. Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 14:09
  • 44
    Note that I informed the editors and the referees that I am an undergraduate student. Why? If you were expecting to be treated differently than anyone else submitting papers to the journal, that’s not how it works.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 14:27
  • 11
    In your next submission, I wouldn't mention your status as an undergraduate student. There's no need for it or benefit to it, and there's at least a chance that they might take the submission less seriously. Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 2:39
  • 11
    @AlexandreAubrey I didn’t say it’s not acceptable to mention. It’s just not a good idea, and to do it with the expectation that it would help in some way suggests a misguided understanding of how journals operate.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 20:00
  • 19
    "My supervisor advised me to submit my paper to this journal" - what did they say about the rejection email?
    – Bergi
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 6:32

3 Answers 3


It is just a nice way to say no. Submit elsewhere.

This is called a desk reject; you will find more in this question What does the typical workflow of a journal look like? .

Note that Math Comp is one of the top journals in its field, so unless the paper was extremely good this was the expected outcome.

  • 4
    To complement what @FedericoPoloni said, uploading your paper to arXiv may also be a bad idea. It really depends on the contents of your preprint. If the paper might be incorrect or of very low quality or contains results that have been known for a long time, do not upload it.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 19:13
  • 4
    This answer could be made more explicit about interpreting the one seemingly substantive part of the letter: "at present we have a large backlog of excellent articles awaiting publication". You seem to be saying that its surface meaning (that this backlog is a meaningful factor in the rejection, and is a contingent and temporary circumstance) should be disregarded, that it is empty verbiage to soften the true message "the paper is not suitable for this journal". But it can happen that a journal...
    – nanoman
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 22:24
  • 32
    @عبدالرحمنرمزيمحمود I'm sorry if this comes off as bristly, but if you don't know which to which journal you should submit your work, you may want to reconsider whether you should be submitting the work to a journal at this time and whether there is more literature review needed on your part. Further, since you are undergraduate, I highly recommend seeking out an advisor who is familiar with your work that can help to answer the questions you are asking here.
    – Chester
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 23:49
  • 11
    @nanoman you’re overthinking the issue. There’s nothing to address, the rejection looks like boilerplate and gives no useful information to OP, either negative or positive, about the quality of their submission. As Federico said, it is just a nice way of saying no.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 6:15
  • 17
    @DanRomik Sure, I'm overthinking it, but so is OP -- I'm pretty sure OP's idea "submit it to the same journal at a later time" was derived from the idea that there may be a genuine, temporary backlog per the plain words of the letter. So explaining this explicitly ("I know it sounds like it means they would consider your paper at another more 'normal' time, but it actually doesn't mean that") would help OP and others in a similar position.
    – nanoman
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 6:43

It's totally normal to get a first paper rejected, especially if you are dealing with a top notch journal (receiving lots of submissions) in a time of reviewer shortages. Don't take it personally or feel bad about it.

I would encourage you to submit your article to another journal. You can research potential journals by looking at what journals your citations were published in as well as looking at lists of journal rankings (e.g. SJR, list of these ranking websites). Note: don't get too hung up on exact rankings - think of these lists more as a tool where you can search journals by keyword and try to get an understanding of who has a history of being being a reputable journal versus who is a potential scam. Come up with a list of a few suggestions, and then go talk your ideas over with your supervisor. They may have other suggestions too, but it's good to start learning about how to pick a journal.

  • 1
    I don't understand why you mention "a time of reviewer shortages". There is always a reviewer shortage.
    – user9482
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 13:40
  • @Roland I was referring to the phrasing in the Journal's response in the OP's original question. Yes, excellent point that there are never enough reviewers available. Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 14:15
  • 1
    Don't think counter-logically! The fact that there are never enough reviewers available does not counter, but only strengthens the conclusion that, this is a time of reviewer shortage. Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 11:43

Even if the backlog answer was true, it could take many months to clear it out. I would submit to another journal.

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