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First time here, I hope I do well asking this question. I didn't any answer.

This is my situation: I presented a research in a colloquium last June. Now I want to publish it as an article. Is it OK if I send an abstract to several journals at the same time simply asking if they would be interested in the full article? I mean, I guess it would accelerate a lot the process of getting my paper published if I don't have to wait weeks or months before being refused simply because my paper is not interesting to them... I'm new in the academic world, so I don't know if it's unethical.

What do you think?

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    "...I don't have to wait weeks or months before being refused simply because my paper is not interesting to them" If your manuscript is a bad fit for a journal the editor will usually desk-reject without sending it out to reviewers. Usually, this takes only a few days. Jul 28, 2021 at 7:24
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    @Snijderfrey In principle that's true, but in reality it's sometimes not so clear-cut and papers go through an entire peer review round only to be deemed a bad fit after all. However, in these cases sending the abstract to the editor before wouldn't have changed anything.
    – xLeitix
    Jul 28, 2021 at 7:31
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    @xLeitix, You are certainly right. What I wanted to express is that there is an initial assessment step after submission anyway without the OP trying to force it. Jul 28, 2021 at 7:53
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    @Snijderfrey Exactly, if it's obvious from the abstract that the journal won't want it, it won't go to peer review. If it's not obvious from the abstract, it might take a long time to get rejected, but you can't speed that up by sending the abstract in advance! Jul 29, 2021 at 11:05
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    No, regardless of the content of the abstract, they still need to consider the whole paper and how everything is set out.
    – Tom
    Jul 29, 2021 at 13:16

6 Answers 6

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I recommend not to do this. If you think that a journal might be a good fit for your paper send the whole paper and if you think that it is not, do not send them the paper at all. Of course the editors might think otherwise but I think that such a decision can hardly be reached by looking at the abstract only. Whether the paper fits does not only depend on the topic but also whether it is written with the intended audience in mind.

Another aspect is that editors tend to be rather busy and what you propose does not really fit into the usual workflow of a journal.

Edit based on comments by Richard Erickson and Matt: the above does not necessarily apply to all journals since there are some which encourage presubmission inquiries. There is also an editorial by Roger J. R. Levesque which also deems these inquiries as potentially problematic and unneccessary.

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    Depends upon the journal and the field. But, yes, I generally agree with what you're saying. Also, this editorial does as well: link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10964-019-01008-z. Consider adding it as a citation to bolster your answer Jul 28, 2021 at 20:49
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    Right, not fitting the workflow is a negative. Jul 29, 2021 at 23:44
  • The second part is absolutely correct, but some journals allow--and even encourage--presubmission enquires. If it's part of their workflow, you can certainly take advantage of it, especially if there's any concern about scope or "impact".
    – Matt
    Jul 30, 2021 at 20:11
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What you want to do is usually called a pre-submission inquiry. It is somewhat common for high-level journals in some fields, where a major hurdle is convincing the editor that your paper is relevant enough or on-topic for the journal, before it enters peer review. The outcome of pre-submission inquiries is not binding, but it may give you a better idea of your chances of getting into review. Some journals even require pre-submission inquiries for certain paper types (such as review or method papers). However, in other fields it is unheard of. Some journals explicitly state whether they accept pre-submission inquiries (example).

If you are in a field where pre-submission inquiries are a thing and time is critical for you for some reason, you might consider this. The major advantage of pre-submission inquiries is that you can send them to multiple journals at once, whereas you can only properly submit your paper to one journal. (I list some further advantages here, but I don’t think they apply to you.)

If on the other hand pre-submission inquiries are not normal in your field, you’ll probably just waste everybody’s time and annoy the editors, who are unlikely to give you a constructive response.

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  • Where such practice is the norm, screening is usually pretty quick (and usually requires the whole document, not the abstract) Jul 28, 2021 at 20:02
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    @ScottSeidman Though definitely not required in my field, sometimes a pre-submission inquiry is an informal conversation at a conference, without any document.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 28, 2021 at 20:05
  • @BryanKrause If you ever submit to Science (and probably Nature, and some of the other more newsy platforms) there's always a review stage of this ilk, It's not called by this name, but every paper is screened for whether it merits space before going out for peer review. Jul 28, 2021 at 20:10
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    @ScottSeidman I do not consider a pre-submission inquiry to be the same as the desk rejection process for a typical manuscript. I have personally/through my coauthors used pre-submission inquiries to, for example, check on the rigidity of restrictions on figure/table counts and length, or to get an idea of the boundaries of basic science that an editor will entertain in a clinically-focused journal.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 28, 2021 at 20:13
  • @ScottSeidman FYI, I was googling and found this nature.com/nature/for-authors/presub Jul 28, 2021 at 20:48
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You are not stating your discipline, which may make a difference here. In applied computer science, this would be utterly pointless - if you get any answer at all to such a request, it would be "we need to review the full article before we can say if it can be published".

The only cornercase where it may be useful to ask the Editor-in-Chief prior to submission is if you are unsure if your submission is in scope of the journal (most likely because you are doing interdisciplinary work), and even then the answer is often a lukewarm "depends on how strong the contribution of your work in < area of the journal > is".

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  • As a counterpoint from neuroscience, the response to one presubmission inquiry we sent was along the lines of "Be aware that we reject a lot of papers on this topic for [methodological reasons], so make sure that yours includes rigorous controls addressing these issues." This advice was really helpful for structuring the paper we eventually submitted, especially since it came much faster than a normal review.
    – Matt
    Aug 1, 2021 at 14:50
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Follow the instructions each journal provides to authors about how and what to submit.

Being a newcomer to academia, you should assume that your ideas for how to improve the peer review system, however logical and efficient they might seem to you, are not going to be an improvement over the current system.

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The process, on your part, involves doing your homework toward figuring out if a manuscript would be a viable candidate for any journal you send it to before submission.

Read the list of articles in the last few years, and if any seem to be in the area of your work, go read the papers and see if they're along the lines of what you're doing. Look at where the papers you cite in your work are published. Look at where the leaders in your field publish their papers. If you need the help of a colleague to do this, get that help.

I appreciate your wish to speed up your process, but your idea is off base. You should never send any portion of a document to more than one journal. You're asking for confusion and problems, and you might even find your abstract published in isolation if all goes wrong. Also, you're passing along a job that you need to do to others.

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You are asking the wrong question. Get someone from your university involved to help you getting your work published. Either some professor you know or a person from the colloquium audience.

They might help you to improve your paper in the first step, like a internal review. Then they might name you a suitable journal.
Overall this will help the quality of your paper and increase the success rate.

Good luck!

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