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I have sent my paper to the Annals of Mathematics. They emailed me:

The expert consulted has determined that the paper is not suitable for the Annals. The nature of the reporting was such that there are no details to share. There are no reports to be shared with the author.

What does that mean?

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    this probably just means that the submission was not notable enough for them to publish. Aug 29, 2022 at 16:03
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    It also means that any feedback the editor did receive from referees was marked not to be shared with the authors. Aug 29, 2022 at 16:41

4 Answers 4

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The Annals is the most prestigious journal in mathematics. Unless your paper solves a famous long-standing problem (correctly!), there is no point in sending your paper there. The editor sent the paper to an expert and the expert determined your paper did not do something important enough to be published in the Annals. Try one of the several hundred less prestigious mathematics journal.

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    Or the paper did not even go out for peer review.
    – Kimball
    Aug 30, 2022 at 0:32
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Submit to another journal.
Do not be discouraged. Most mathematicians never publish a paper in a journal as prestigious as the Annals.
If your papers are always accepted in the first journal you send to, then you are aiming too low.

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    Yes for the first two sentences. Maybe not the third. If you know your field and the quality of your work you can and should submit to an appropriate journal right from the start rather than aim/hope for unlikely prestige. Aug 25, 2022 at 23:26
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    @EthanBolker: Keep in mind that the journal acceptance process is noisy. Sometimes journals will reject work that they should have accepted. If you aim "just right", then you will be rejected erroneously sometimes. You would have to consistently aim "way too low" to never be rejected. Aug 26, 2022 at 1:03
  • @AlexanderWoo if you consistently aim "way too low" it means you are picking the appropriate journal i.e. that your "aiming way too low" is consistent with your work being of "way too low interest/novelty" :D
    – EarlGrey
    Aug 26, 2022 at 7:45
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    All of my papers at top 10ish journals were rejected somewhere before they were accepted at a top 10ish journal. Absolutely one should be getting rejections if you’re submitting appropriately. That said, this particular response indicates that maybe for this paper the author ought to have known it wasn’t at the Annals level. Aug 27, 2022 at 20:38
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    "then you are aiming too low." to paraphrase Groucho Marx, I wouldn't want to publish in a journal that would accept one of my papers ;o) Aug 30, 2022 at 11:26
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This is similar to a desk reject. The paper is off-topic (out of scope) for the journal and you need to take it elsewhere. Everything after the first sentence just says there is nothing more to say.

If you send the paper elsewhere, make sure you know the stated scope of the journal to save yourself time and effort.

An outside chance is that it was considered unsalvageable for some reason other than scope. Further communication will probably not be fruitful.

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    The Annals of Math is a general mathematics journal, so the only type of paper that would be considered “off-topic” there is a paper that’s not a math paper. It seems much more likely that OP’s paper is simply not of a level of importance that’s of interest to the journal, rather than being literally off-topic.
    – Dan Romik
    Aug 26, 2022 at 4:59
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    I'd second @DanRomik's comment: "not appropriate" for the Annals just means "not significant enough", not "off-topic" in some way. A few other math journals will behave the same way. Aug 27, 2022 at 19:31
  • @paulgarrett, there are many ways to be out of scope other than "not mathematics". Wild speculation? Recreational math? Elementary school math?
    – Buffy
    Aug 27, 2022 at 19:43
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    @Buffy, yes, and/but I'm well acquainted with The Annals, and the dominant feature is significance/status. Aug 27, 2022 at 20:39
  • @Buffy Presumably, elementary school math wouldn't be sufficiently notable for them to publish. Most journals are only interested in papers on subjects that aren't already widely known. Aug 29, 2022 at 20:38
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Prestigious journals (and Annals is very prestigious) will routinely contact one or more people for a "quick opinion" about whether the paper could plausibly be strong enough for that journal before sending it off to be properly refereed. If the answer is "no", they will immediately respond to the author with something like the email you received. Because all they asked the consulted expert(s) to do was have a quick look, and they probably based their opinion purely on the abstract and introduction, there will normally be no extra feedback to give you - the most you might hope for is "I think a more appropriate journal might be XXX", and the editor may well decide not to pass that on.

When this happens, you should normally get a response quickly, say within 2-3 weeks. The purpose is to avoid wasting time - it is far better for the authors to get a quick rejection and be able to submit to a different journal straight away than waiting 6+ months for the full refereeing process and getting proper feedback. It also avoids wasting referees' and editors' efforts.

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    Good answer. In my field, we call this a “desk reject” meaning that the rejection comes from the “desk of the editor” perhaps with a quick consultation of a member of the editorial board.
    – Dawn
    Aug 29, 2022 at 14:32

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