My colleagues and I are trying to publish a paper since July of this year. Unfortunately, we have sent the papers to three journals, but on all three occasions, the response we got from the editor was that the paper "does not fit the journal".

To this end, I have a simple query: Do we need to cite articles from the journal where we are sending our paper? I have looked for an answer elsewhere, but couldn't find anything satisfactory or incontrovertible.

  • 15
    Any article you use must be cited, no matter where it appears. But "padding" the paper to have citations isn't proper or useful.
    – Buffy
    Sep 1, 2022 at 10:56
  • 6
    I have in the past been requested to add citations to papers in the same journal by editors when I have had a paper accepted (in order to improve their impact factors). It made me reluctant to publish with them again in the future. Sep 2, 2022 at 5:17

3 Answers 3


There is certainly no (written or unwritten) rule which forces you to cite papers of your target journal to get in - expecting this would be highly unethical on the side of the editors. However, if the journal is a good fit for your paper, it is likely to have references which are relevant to your work and if you don't find some, then the journal might not fit as well as you think it does (or your literature research might need improvement). I sometimes even take the reverse approach and identify a fitting venue for a paper by looking at where the peers I cited published their work so that the right audience will find it.

  • this --- Some journals even do say that they expect successful submissions to clearly continue a conversation in the journal - which means your literature review or similar does basically have to cite them to show that connection. And the way to not force that, as mentioned, is to submit to places with articles you ought to cite.
    – Mike M
    Sep 3, 2022 at 10:53
  • @Mike: If journals expect "continuing a conversation" in the journal, the people in charge of the journal are clearly incompetent, and do not understand scientific ethos. However, I'd reason that they aren't "expecting" it, but are only encouraging it, since they assume that new papers in that field would be extensions or improvements of ideas already published in that journal. OP is perhaps presenting seminal concepts that some people in academia generally tend to reject initially. One of my papers got rejected from an Rxiv, and later got accepted unmodified, in an international conference.
    – Nav
    Sep 3, 2022 at 13:04

Absolutely Not - That Would be Academically Fraudulant

Although, if a journal is a good fit for your paper, it will probably have some stuff that you'd want to cite.

Maybe submit your paper to a journal that you're already citing articles from.


No, but...

One way to show that your article is "a good fit" for a journal is to show that you are responding to, working with, or otherwise engaged with work that has been published previously in that journal.

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