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I have a manuscript which has been submitted and rejected by a journal. I am now preparing the manuscript for submission to another journal.

The cover letter guidelines for the new journal state that I need to confirm the content of the manuscript has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere.

Does this mean I should let them know it has already been submitted (and rejected) elsewhere? Or is the intent of this section to make sure I am not submitting the same content to multiple journals at once (which I know is bad practice) meaning there is no need to state it has been rejected by another journal?

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    No, you don’t need to let them know which journal(s) you’ve submitted to before. And yes, you should only submit to one journal at a time.
    – user126108
    Dec 6, 2023 at 3:27
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    @leonos just on a side note to your comment. I love when I peer-review and get the same paper from two different journals. Instant reject on both submissions!! and those authors are instant black listed almost certainly for a few years! Dec 6, 2023 at 3:52
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    @leonos, thanks. If you submit that as an answer I would be happy to accept it.
    – Jay Bee
    Dec 6, 2023 at 4:11
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    @AlyAbdelaziz: that has happened to me before. I reviewed a paper for journal A, it was rejected there, and then I got it for review from journal B. I see no problem whatsoever here, as long as the authors improved their paper before submitting to B (yes, by that I mean that they engaged with my review for A). Of course, if they submit the exact same version that I last reviewed for A and was submitted, I just reuse my last review. Dec 6, 2023 at 7:10
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    @StephanKolassa that happens alot. And like you of it's the same submission, I would resubmit my review. I just meant in my comment earlier that I got manuscript A and B at the same time from different journals, as in the author's did exactly what they are not supposed to do and submitted it to journals at the same time without waiting for reviews Dec 7, 2023 at 12:11

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The comments already give you a short answer. But no, you do not need to let them know you were rejected elsewhere. You are correct that they are asking about simultaneous submissions, which is a little worse than just bad practice. It will result in rejection (and blacklisting from both journals).

I want to add that you can let the next journal know about the rejection. It isn't necessarily the worst thing ever - especially if you want to share good prior reviews. And if you use a publisher's transfer desk service, it may even be automatic.

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    Just to add to this, I have seen journals that explicitly ask in their cover letter/author guidelines to state whether the submission had been submitted and rejected elsewhere before, so better read this before assuming this doesn't need to be done. (The questioner has apparently read the guidelines anyway.) Dec 6, 2023 at 10:28
  • I’m not sure that you have the right to share prior reviews. Aren’t they the “property” of the original journal?
    – user126108
    Dec 6, 2023 at 11:51
  • @leonos: I don't think anyone would ask to share previous reviews. The question is about whether the paper has been submitted elsewhere before, which just requires a yes/no answer. Dec 6, 2023 at 12:16
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    @StephanKolassa my comment was in response to the answer which states “It isn't necessarily the worst thing ever - especially if you want to share good prior reviews.”
    – user126108
    Dec 6, 2023 at 12:19
  • @StephanKolassa If I remember correctly, I have even seen a journal asking for sharing previous reviews in case this was submitted elsewhere before. However this is very long ago and my memory about it isn't necessarily reliable. In any case it is an interesting question if this would be legal/legitimate. Dec 6, 2023 at 22:08

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