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This is a straighforward question. I have written a paper specifically for a particular journal which has rejected it and wished me luck publishing this elsewhere (reviewers also expressed interest in my project). But now, I am uncertain what "elsewhere" may be.

Thus, is it a good strategy to ask editors for recommendations of similar journals that would consider my manuscript after adjusting it according to feedback from review process?

Elsevier does this automatically, I guess, although the recommended journals are usually in lower quantiles, compared to the targeted journal. I also suppose that journals have better information about the field than I do, since I am sending my manuscript to them.

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    +1, good question. My gut reaction would be that this would be a slightly strange request. The manuscript author should have a reasonable idea of which journals to aim for, since they are presumably an expert in the field. Commented Feb 12 at 9:22
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    No --- I don't think editors are supposed to promote journals from other publishers. You can ask a senior colleague though.
    – Norbert S
    Commented Feb 12 at 20:55
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    What is your background? Are you not in a situation where you have an advisor who is an expert in your field?
    – Sabine
    Commented Feb 12 at 21:24
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    I have never received such a request and honestly have no idea how I would respond to someone who sent such a request. I would not reply with a list of potential journals, but would probably just not reply at all. Commented Feb 13 at 20:00

4 Answers 4

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wished me luck publishing this elsewhere

This is just polite language. They probably do not care about your manuscript specifically; they certainly have also experienced papers being rejected, though, and understand that this doesn't feel good, so they may have some care in the abstract, but they probably didn't actually write these words, they're just part of the rejection script.

It is not a journal editor's job to find a suitable place for your manuscript, whatever their expertise in the field may be; that's your job and the job of your network. You're asking for a favor and someone's time to think about this sort of thing. If you're a student, you should be asking your research advisor/mentor. Often even experienced academics are not sure where exactly they should send a paper and they ask their friends/colleagues for advice.

Yes, publishers will sometimes recommend their other journals to you because they still hope to collect a fee for publishing, but as you mention these are more or less automatic, the suggestions are going to be based on a pipeline established from A journal to B journal, where B journal is likely to be relatively non-selective.

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    I get that this may sound as just a polite language, but I believe it is sincere, because I had a few interactions with editors of this journal and they do not send automatized answers, they always write personalized notes of rejection, continuing the discussion we have together, linking new information with previous submissions, etc...
    – Athaeneus
    Commented Feb 12 at 14:18
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    Even if it was not copied and pasted, this is something they probably have written a lot and it is mechanised by now. Not to say that you shouldn't try to publish somewhere else, but don't try to read it beyond the editor being empathetic and polite about the rejection.
    – The Doctor
    Commented Feb 12 at 14:41
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    @Athaeneus Even if the language is sincere, I just want to emphasize something Bryan said here: "It is not a journal editor's job to find a suitable place for your manuscript, whatever their expertise in the field may be." On this basis alone, I think it's at best entitled, and at worst inappropriate, for you to ask the editor to help you further on a task that goes beyond their professional responsibility when they get no benefit.
    – Andrew
    Commented Feb 13 at 0:50
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    I think "I wish you luck in publishing this elsewhere" is a polite way of emphasising that the editor is not interested in seeing this work resubmitted to their journal.
    – avid
    Commented Feb 13 at 10:11
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As a journal editor, if I see that something is obviously a good fit elsewhere, I recommend that journal in my rejection email. If you're really stuck on where to try to publish the work, consider looking through your reference list and see what journal held the papers that you cite most often. That might be a decent starting place.

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First, I think you have to ask yourself, "Why would the editor of a journal that rejected my paper know better than I do where else I might publish the piece?" It certainly isn't obvious to me that they would!

Additionally, I think you have to consider the possibility that "Good luck with publishing elsewhere" might just be a pro-forma way of reinforcing "No thank you" but trying to soften the blow. Editors are human too, and some recognize that rejections can be painful! They might not want your piece, but they don't want to seem cruel.

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    "Why would the editor of a journal that rejected my paper know better than I do where else I might publish the piece?" I guess the editors are more grounded in the field then I am? I also understand that they may want to soften the blows, but few reviewers also hinted that they are very interested in what direction the article evolves, etc.
    – Athaeneus
    Commented Feb 12 at 10:16
  • You should add that information back into your original question. It will improve your chances of getting the kind of advice you're looking for. ,,, and not everyone reads comments. Commented Feb 12 at 10:50
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    @Athaeneus This is a side-comment. I'll delete it tomorrow. I've looked at a couple of your posts, prompted the phrasing of your comment above. You need to be aware of the idiomatic difference between "few" and "a few". "Few" on its own without the article, specifically emphasizes "only a small number" as in "Few people came to my presentation ... so I was very disappointed". Your comment therefore implies that most reviewers were uninterested in the evolution of the article. "A few" on the other hand, emphasises "several", "more that just 1". Commented Feb 12 at 11:06
  • @CrimsonDark even if it doesn't concern me, I think more people should leave comments like yours. That's very helpful.
    – DonQuiKong
    Commented Feb 12 at 19:54
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In addition to what others have said, you should remember that the editor has not evaluated your paper. They left that job to reviewers. So it is the reviewers who might be able to suggest alternative journals (and sometimes do).

I can't imagine an editor passing on a question like this to reviewers after rejection (or a reviewer taking it well if the editor did), so I think you are best off not asking.

(Desk rejections may be different, but this wasn't one.)

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