This question was motivated by a desire to have a clean set of terms to describe the life cycle of a manuscript from draft to publication from the perspective of the author.

I could say:

I am "revising" my paper and "resubmitting" it.

Obviously, this could apply to (a) the situation where you have submitted a paper and been given the option to submit an updated manuscript (i.e., a revise and resubmit); or (b) you received a rejection letter and you are improving the manuscript with the intention of resubmitting the manuscript to a new journal.

I was wondering what concise language can be used to distinguish these two types of revising and resubmitting?

  • One should note that "revise and resubmit" is essentially a shenanigan invented by journals to make it look like their article processing time is lower than the real one. The proper name would be "major revisions recommended". May 1, 2015 at 7:03
  • @Federico From my experiences I have found reviewer requests for revisions to be an excellent way of improving a manuscript before publication. So I don't quite get your point. Perhaps also I haven't clearly articulated my motivation for this question. I like to conceptualise where each of my manuscripts is in the publication pipeline. And when I describe each stage of that pipeline, I like to have a simple one or perhaps two word phrase that captures the stage. May 1, 2015 at 7:19
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    Some journals use the term "major revisions requested/recommended" to indicate essentially the same concept as "revise and resubmit". Essentially, this means that there are several nontrivial points to address and parts to improve, but you should submit an updated version of your manuscript (and it's likely to be accepted, since it will be probably handled by the same reviewers). So, why do some journals insist on calling this updated version a new submission? My understanding is that the only reason to do it is so that their statistic "time between submission and acceptance" looks better. May 1, 2015 at 7:26
  • @FedericoPoloni I see the point you are making. I'm seeing the problem more from the perspective of conceptualising the publication workflow. From this perspective "minor revisions", "major revisions", and "allowed to make new submission" are all conceptualised as the same step in the publication process (i.e., "revisions"). They just reflect a distinction in the amount of work to be done, the probability of ultimate acceptance, and perhaps whether new reviewers will be assigned. But in terms of conceptualising the process, they all mean "the publication is with me and I need to make changes". May 2, 2015 at 4:13

3 Answers 3


I personally tend to distinguish these words as follows:

  • "Revise" and "Resubmit" are reserved exclusively for updating a manuscript with the same journal.
  • Shifting to another journal is "Editing" and "Submitting again"

My concept of a lifecyle. I've used a diagram to disambiguate the terms rather than using sentences.

Paper Lifecycle

  • Thanks (+1). I just had a few questions about this workflow: (a) Where is publication acceptance in this process? (b) does "resubmit" mean submit to a new journal or just submitting to the journal following a request for revisions? (c) does this workflow imply a distinction between "revise and submit" (i.e., following rejection) and "revise and resubmit" (i.e., following revisions)? May 2, 2015 at 4:23
  • @Jeromy Anglim - I meant "submit" is always the first submission of a text to each journal. "resubmit" is sending it back to that same journal. You can revise and submit elsewhere as an alternative. May 2, 2015 at 8:46

A submission to a new journal is considered a fresh start. So in that case, you would speak of 'a submission', regardless whether an earlier version of the manuscript was rejected at another journal.

A revision (of a manuscript) always refers to an earlier version, and is to be used exclusively in a context where the earlier version is known. So you can discuss a revision with your co-authors (even when that was submitted to a different venue), but towards a new journal you would not do that for an unpublished work, since they are unaware (and typically also not interested) that it might have been rejected elsewhere.

In case that you hand in a extended version of a conference article, then you might speak of a revision (but it would be better to just call it an 'extended version'), since the earlier version is publicly available.

Only when submitting a reworked version to the same journal, you would speak of a 'resubmission'.

  • Just to clarify, I understand your point that when corresponding with an editor you would not draw attention to the fact that the manuscript has been revised following a rejection from a different journal. However, I'm more interested in how researchers conceptualise the publication workflow. I.e., you have a bunch of papers that you are working on, and you want to say quickly what is the status of each paper. May 2, 2015 at 4:27
  • I certainly think differently about the following three types of papers: (a) a paper that is in draft form but has never been submitted to any journal; (b) a paper that has been rejected and needs to be submitted elsewhere generally following some revisions; and (c) a paper that has received a request for revisions by a journal. I wonder how what you say above relates to that perspective. May 2, 2015 at 4:29

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