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I am submitting a manuscript to a journal that specifies "papers must not exceed 30 double-spaced manuscript pages, including all figures and tables." My manuscript has 37 pages. The journal asks to provide a justification statement if the manuscript exceeds the length limitations. Based on previous experience with the journal, one of my colleagues told that the journal is not too strict and generally considers papers that exceed the maximum specified length. Since I am submitting a manuscript to this journal for the first time, I am quite anxious. Please advise how I may justify the length of the manuscript.

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    Be careful of the possibility that the publishers have an incentive not to be strict, in the form of being able to send you an enormous bill for page charges if you go over the length limit. Make sure you've read all the guidelines very carefully before you submit. – Daniel Hatton Jan 17 at 18:02
  • @DanielHatton Thank you for the comment. I checked the journal's website and found no charges for manuscript publication and/or extra pages. – user3024069 Jan 17 at 18:16
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    Since when writing the paper, what were your reasons to exceed the page size? – lalala Jan 18 at 12:42
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    A good general principle to bear in mind: The main thing is not justifying why your paper exceeded their limit, it’s justifying why they should publish your paper despite it exceeding the limit. – PLL Jan 18 at 16:23
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Assuming it is true, I'd say that I'd made a good faith effort to keep it to the limits, considering whether any of the material was extraneous, but it is still at 37 pages.

But also add that you would welcome advice from reviewers including advice on reducing the length.

I doubt that a detailed technical statement will get the result you want, since the editor may not be able to evaluate what you say since that is more the job of reviewers.

Some papers can also be split into two, of course. Perhaps you have considered that already. Not all, of course, but it is worth a look.

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Perhaps most important is to explain why this paper belongs in this journal, and not in another journal that allows longer papers. I am not sure of the research area, but in mathematics there are journals that allow much longer papers than 30 pages. What is so special about this journal?

If there is somehow not a more appropriate journal, have a look at other papers in the journal that are over in length. Perhaps none are longer than 32 pages, and yours has no hope unless you trim further. Perhaps there papers as long as 37 and you can deduce the reasons. If there are lots of papers well above 30 pages, then your colleague is correct that this is a minor issue. In that case, do as Buffy says, and explain why this cannot be sliced into two 25 page papers, all the effort you put into making as short as possible.

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    The journal is quite reputed. The research area is pavement engineering. The length limitation is on the submitted manuscript. I am not sure how I would compare the length of other published articles in the journal since the published versions (pdf) are quite different from the submitted manuscript. – user3024069 Jan 18 at 5:40
  • @user3024069 There are scientific journals for pavement engineering? As in laying sidewalk? – Nzall Jan 18 at 14:52
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    @Nzall Why is that surprising..? It's a branch of civil engineering like any other. – DividedByZero Jan 18 at 17:14
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    @Nzall: in North American English, pavement generally refers to roads, not sidewalks. – TonyK Jan 18 at 17:51

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