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I am aware of the ethics around submitting papers to multiple journals simultaneously. I know some people have also asked about submitting simultaneous papers to the same journal. In that case, there is hope that maybe they'll all get accepted. I am instead concerned with sending multiple papers to the same journal sequentially (i.e. a month or two apart) when none of them have been accepted.

I am in a situation where I have a large database that I use for analysis (healthcare related field). My collaborators often want to shoot for the same top journal in our field. I have been rejected multiple times already from this journal (all desk rejections), and worry that I could generate a negative reputation with the editors ("Oh, another article from _____, reject it.") even if some of our later studies/findings are more impressive (though to be clear, the prior studies have all been rigorous, asked distinct questions, and were not "salami" science). My collaborators are largely different for each project though so I don't believe they share this worry.

Is this fear warranted? Do editors even remember individual submissions? (my dataset is somewhat unique so I have at times thought they would remember me because of it).

Edit: I spoke with an associate editor of a journal who suggested there was not much to fear in repeated rejections and that we should aim high, and that most decisions from the top journals are desk rejections. It seems opinions vary on this.

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  • Note that a desk rejection is often a sign of bad judgement or insufficient research into the submission standards of the journal on the part of the author. They can happen for all kinds of innocent reasons but if they happen repeatedly for the same journal you should think about whether it is reasonable to submit there.
    – quarague
    Mar 7 at 13:44

3 Answers 3

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The "bad reputation" would be local, with the journal, and not global, but, yes, multiple desk rejections will result in added editorial skepticism of future submissions.

You need to find a more appropriate venue and/or "up your game". Not every paper is suitable for Nature. At some point your submission becomes noise and you might get rejected in future for something worth consideration.

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You should exercise care. Not only will editors remember that you had multiple unsuccessful submissions, but the submission system of the journal might even keep track of that electronically (e.g. rejection rate for corresponding author). That is, even if they don't remember or the manuscript is handled by a different editor, they might know about it. In turn, such a knowledge will certainly not work in your favor, as it might bias them towards assuming that also this paper is likely to be rejected (potentially causing e.g. desk rejects or a tendency to reject in case of unclear reports).

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Well, they might get annoyed by the same person trying to push "hopeless" results there, but it is not too uncommon and also quite unlikely that will influence their future decisions enough - if you paper is a good fit, they would consider it.

Asking yourself what do you misunderstand about either the scope of your papers or the journal itself would be a good thing to do, though.

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