Recently, I submitted a paper to a journal published by Elsevier. The "Elsevier Journal Finder" feature suggested this particular journal in #3 out of a total of 5 suggestions. A while ago, I had also published a work in the same journal, which was of the same topic (satellite retrievals) that I was trying to submit now. However, for the recent submission, the editor decided that the paper is not topical to the journal and suggested to submit in a mathematical journal. Although there are some mathematical applications in this paper, they are not new, has been known for over 20 years, and was only applied towards satellite retrievals. I am a bit puzzled. Any advice will be appreciated.
First, I am not familiar with the "Elsevier Journal Finder," but any automated tools like this should be regarded as search tools and not wholehearted recommendations.
Second, there are a few obvious reasons why your paper might not be considered on topic.
- Your paper has too much mathematical content or is written in too mathematical of a style for the journal, despite having applications to a relevant topic.
- Your specific findings or methods are considered too specialized/not of interest for (the target audience of) this journal.
- Even if this paper was pretty similar to your previous paper, different editors may have somewhat different views on what papers are relevant. This also means that the types of papers published by certain journals can change over time, as editors change.
Generally it's a good idea when you're journal shopping to do the following to check if your paper will be a good fit: 1) read the "scope & aims" section of the journal, 2) look at the list of editors to check for overlap in interest with your research (if you haven't heard of any of them, that's usually not a good sign), and 3) look at some papers the journal has recently put out to see if any are similar to yours.
The postdoc in my lab recently submitted a paper and got an instant: “Paper not suitable for this journal” decision as well. In our case we thought it was very strange because there were very similar papers published just within the previous week!
I think the postdoc and the PI e-mailed the editors to try and clear up the confusion and I think they got them to review the paper (not exactly sure, I am not involved with the project).
I think it would be beneficial to try and communicate further with the editor.