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Certain publishers who manage a large portfolio of journals offer transfer services if a submitted paper is rejected before being reviewed.

I have had mixed luck with transferring papers, sometimes I transferred to a more selective journal and the paper was sent to review, sometimes I transferred "down" and didn't get reviewed.

I have always wondered if editors are somewhat biased by receiving a transferred paper because they might be wondering why it was rejected by their colleague.

Is it a good idea to transfer papers when the format between the two journals involved is somewhat similar? Is it better to spend an hour redoing the submission to avoid some negative bias?

Does a transferred paper bias editor judgment?

Please only answer if you have some direct experience, otherwise this becomes an opinion based answer.

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  • Personally it's no (although I will of course look at the reasons for transfer), but I'm only one person and can't speak for anyone else.
    – Allure
    Dec 14, 2021 at 12:16
  • Answers based on personal experience will be opinions. To get more than opinions, you would need a scientific study of this, and I doubt such a thing has been conducted. Dec 14, 2021 at 13:14
  • @DavidKetcheson yes I agree, but I rather have answers from first-hand experience rather than someone who "thinks" what editors might like or not. Dec 14, 2021 at 13:48

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From my experience with with transfers, both as an author and an editor, I believe that transfer improves chances of acceptance.

When a paper initially arrives, the editor has no way to know if it's any good or not, and they make their decision in as unbiased a manner as possible.

When a paper is transferred, however, that is not the case. Transfers typically involve communication, and they are not automatic. Instead, they generally represent a third option that is between reviewing and rejecting. When an editor receives a transfer, they are being told "This manuscript isn't right for our journal for reason X, but I think it's not junk and that you are likely to want to publish it." This is good for you as an author, because the editor is being given a positive review.

This is especially often the case when dealing with a transfer from a "glamour" journal to a more "bread-and-butter" journal, because the rejection from the "glamour" journal typically has little to do with the validity of your work and more to do with how "glamorous" it is. A journal that is more concerned with validity than glamour will often be very happy to publish such "rejects" because if it was actually junk, the glamour journal would likely not have have referred it to them.

Now, there are often bumps on the way, such as reformatting, but even those don't always happen: I've often had transfers sent out for review "as is", and then the reformatting happens during the revision process, when I'm much happier about investing the effort.

Bottom line: as long as you're working with a good and functional publisher, embrace your transfers as good news.

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