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I have always taken "Has this manuscript been submitted previously?" to mean that the journal wants to know whether you have submitted the manuscript previously to the same journal and it was rejected/withdrawn, or you were late in submitting your revision and hence need to submit as a new submission to the same journal. However, it just clicked that the question does not explicitly say so. Do we need to mention submissions to other journals in the past here?

Similarly, I read the following to mean I am being asked about RIGHT NOW not having submitted elsewhere, not in the past. Clearly it should not be published on in press anywhere.

"Confirm that the manuscript has been submitted solely to this journal and is not published, in press, or submitted elsewhere."

How do others answer these questions?

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2 Answers 2

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I've not encountered the first question before. Taken literally, it's asking if you have submitted the manuscript to this journal. However, any good editorial management system should flag resubmitted manuscripts, while whether the paper's been submitted to another journal ought to not be this journal's business. If you have encountered the question, just take the first interpretation.

The second question is much easier to parse. If your manuscript has been published somewhere else (or is in press), then you shouldn't submit it. Similarly if it is currently submitted somewhere else (and is under review), then it shouldn't be submitted. But some people will anyway, hence they're asking to make sure.

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    Taken literally, it is actually asking if the paper has been submitted before, ever, to anything at all. It is a nonsensical question, and I suspect the OP is expected to read between the lines and read that as "has it been submitted to us before" but that isn't what the question is asking. What an awful system!
    – terdon
    Mar 18 at 19:41
  • Thank you for your help!
    – Ambi
    Mar 18 at 23:25
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Yes, it actually meant what you said first and NOT the second. The journal wants to know whether you have submitted the manuscript previously to the same journal and it was rejected/withdrawn. Whether it was rejected/withdrawn is normally a follow up question, or they ask you what was the previous submission ID. Maybe the editors and reviewers would do a comparison to see what has improved. In every reputed journal, you normally attach a cover letter highlight your research and manuscript. There is no harm in being open with the editors as you can mention in the cover letter that what your research/manuscript is about and if you submitted it before, you could write what has improved.

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