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I recently submitted to a journal a manuscript that raises issues about a previous paper published before by the same journal. My submission got rejected but made no mention of our concerns about the previous paper. So I wrote to the editor to suggest that maybe they had overlooked that aspect of our paper and to ask what their policy was when claims like ours are made about a previous paper in their journal. A few days later I received an e-mail saying that an appeal had been filed and that my manuscript would be reconsidered in two weeks.

To begin with, I did not explicitly ask for an appeal to be filed (I had even prepared a submission to another journal already). What I really wanted was an acknowledgment of the issues we raised about the previous paper, and either they would look into them in more detail or they weren't convinced that our concerns are legitimate. But every e-mail I received from them was just a canned response that made no mention of the previous paper, including the one about the appeal.

So what does it mean that they filed an appeal? Is it just an automatic procedure triggered by my e-mail, with little chance of success? Or is it possible that they realized that our paper deserves a more thorough evaluation? Their generic evasive responses are driving me crazy.

Update: The journal editors discussed our manuscript and told us they would ask an external expert to evaluate it. The appeal was not just an automatic procedure.

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2 Answers 2

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Thanks for your question.

This is fairly easily answered. In the journal I help edit, the fact that you've raised an issue about a previous submission on which a final decision had been made constitutes an appeal. In this setting, an "appeal" doesn't mean that we're reviewing our decision to reject your submission, although that might be included in the discussion. What that means is that a new deputy editor has been assigned to look over the issue your raised and determine a suitable response. In my journal, the decision of this "appeal deputy editor" is then discussed by the full editorial committee in a manuscript meeting. Then, this results in a response sent to you.

I'm sorry to say that, if this had been submitted to us, you would also have received canned responses. This is because of the editorial management system that we use, which is a clunky old system called ScholarOne. To be honest, though, I don't know of any journal in my field and many others that is quite naturally (or pre-emptively) personal in their replies.

Depending on the frequency of the manuscript meetings of the journal, a suitable reply may take a while. In my journal, manuscript meetings are held twice a week and appeals are specifically resolved and communicated one or two days after the meeting. We have NEVER not addressed an application for appeal. I hope that this is not the case with your journal, too.

Good luck.

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  • Thank you, that was very helpful. This makes me think that at least they are aware of the concerns we raised with the previous paper. I understand that sending canned responses makes sense most of the time. My only issue with them is that they made no mention of the previous paper, which made me think that they just gave our paper a quick read and rejected without being aware of our claims about the previous paper.
    – CFS
    Mar 18 at 19:39
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Some journals welcome corrections to work they have published. I think many are automatically defensive. Perhaps the fact that your paper has generated an appeal (whatever that may be in this case) means they will actively pursue the questions you raise rather than just stick with the rejection.

I think you will have to wait and see what happens. In the meanwhile, try to manage the crazy making generic evasive responses.

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  • Thank you for your response. It's easier said than done, but I'll try to be patient and wait the two weeks for the new decision. I just hope it won't be another generic rejection.
    – CFS
    Mar 16 at 19:34
  • If it's a rejection then you are free to submit your prepared version elsewhere. Mar 16 at 19:36

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