I've got a rejection for my paper that was submitted to a high impact journal; after waiting 6 weeks instead of 4 normally it was rejected with only one referee comment 4 lines:

This study seems to be well done and the results are properly and concisely described. But, the paper is also nothing more than that...It is just the determination of some basic properties and a comparison of the calculated and measured ones. As such, the paper presents no new insights, new methodologies, or whatsoever... Hence, it must be concluded that the current study applies current measurement protocols in a correct way, but has no added value to the existing state of the art. Therefore, although I have hardly any small remarks on the paper, it does not meet the standards of the journal.

How should one react to such a review? Submit to another journal? The paper is about new material, so I don't agree the referee about the fact it has no added value to the existing state of art!!!!

  • Sounds a lot like the third review from Paper rejected. Should I appeal against biased reviews? - perhaps some of those answers will be helpful to you.
    – ff524
    Sep 15, 2014 at 3:55
  • 17
    The key phrase in the review is "does not meet the standards of the journal". Everything else sounds quite positive. Right paper, wrong journal. Take your work elsewhere and don't be discouraged.
    – Floris
    Sep 15, 2014 at 11:22

1 Answer 1


Journals and conferences tend to have a particular standard for novelty. Some (especially high-impact journals) have a very high bar for novelty, and will only accept papers that have exceptionally high significance and novelty. Others have a low standard for novelty; they'll accept most original papers, as long as they are within the scope of the journal and present solid work. And of course, there is a whole range in between.

From this review, it sounds like you "overshot" a little bit; that is, your paper (as submitted) was not up to this particular journal's standards for novelty. This isn't an accusation that you didn't submit new material; it just means that it didn't contribute enough new insight, new techniques, etc. to meet this journal's standards.

For example, it may be an application of an existing technique to a well-studied problem, that didn't offer any surprising findings - new, possibly valuable, but not very novel.

Your choices are then:

  • If possible: Make some major improvements to your paper. Highlight the novel and impactful aspects of it. Ask others in your field to read your revised paper and give you feedback on where they think it belongs. ("What journal would you expect to see this paper published in?") If they suggest that this revised manuscript is suitable for a high-impact journal, then go ahead and submit to such a journal.
  • Maybe you can't do much more than you already did, or the feedback you get suggests that this work isn't suitable for a journal with high standards for novelty. In that case, find a journal that publishes papers like yours, and submit your paper there.
  • +1 for getting input on "what kind of journal," but I think the first bullet point is a little too optimistic overall.
    – user18072
    Sep 15, 2014 at 17:37
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    @djechlin in most cases, yes. But given the high payoff in case it works, it's worth considering even if the probability of success is small!
    – ff524
    Sep 15, 2014 at 17:37

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