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Recently I sent a manuscript to a high-level IEEE journal (Transaction on Cybernetic, IF=3.45). After my first submission, I received “reject & resubmit” as a response. I resubmitted my manuscript. This time, all reviewer’s answer were “accepted with minor revision”, but the editor decided “reject & resubmit” again.

I want to ask:

  • Is this situation normal?
  • How much is my chance for being accepted in a new resubmission?
  • With a new submission, is it possible that the editor does not send the manuscript to the reviewers but decides by him/herself?
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Depending on the editorial system, it could very well be that reject & resubmit comprises all cases where the paper was neither accepted as it is nor finally rejected. So, in your case, it could just mean that the paper was rejected in its present form (because you need to make the minor revisions requested by the reviewers).

Of course, if the editorial system offers finer-grained status messages, it can also mean that the editor sees more need for revision than the individual reviewers do or estimates the revisions requested by the reviewers to be more substantial than the reviewers did. The editor’s letter may give you more information on this.

Either way, I would not worry too much about it, improve the manuscript as much as you can, and resubmit it. This way has almost certainly the lowest expected waiting time to a final publication.

With a new submission, is it possible that the editor does not send the manuscript to the reviewers but decides by him/herself?

Yes. If you replied to the reviewer’s comments in a satisfactory manner and did not insert a lot of new material, it may very well be that the editor expects that a new round of review will not yield any further input and accept the paper. Of course, the editor could also reject your paper without further review if they think that you did not even attempt to address the reviewer’s comment or similar.

  • @ChristianClason: I see. But that should arguably a different answer. It has nothing to do with my answer specifically. (And in fact, there now is an answer on this.) – Wrzlprmft Jun 4 '16 at 6:09
  • @Wrzlprmft I was trying to answer your question (now deleted) regarding Vladimir's comment, not the original question (which didn't ask for "why", just "what to expect next"). – Christian Clason Jun 4 '16 at 6:44
  • @ChristianClason: I understand. Still, Vladimir’s comment doesn’t belong here. – Wrzlprmft Jun 4 '16 at 6:54
  • Well, arguably it does, since it comments on the first sentence in your answer, giving an explanation why this might be the case. But if you feel that strongly about it, you can always flag the comments for deletion. – Christian Clason Jun 4 '16 at 7:18
  • @ChristianClason: I already did. – Wrzlprmft Jun 4 '16 at 7:21
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Multiple possibilities:

  1. the journal (esp. as it is a high-level one) does ever only one round of corrections possible. If a second round is required, it turns automatically into a resubmission. Fix the issues and resubmit and you'll be fine.

  2. Or the editor does really not like the paper - but usually you get the editor's detailed comment who tell you whether there are complaints there.

If 2. is not the case, you probably are in case 1. Fix the issues and resubmit, stating that you hope that the amendment according to reviewer's comments are now satisfactory.

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I do not wish to sound cynical, but some journals (and their editors) are not above issuing a reject and resubmit well into the review process even though the manuscript is pretty close to its final form, and they themselves consider the manuscript to be almost acceptance worthy.

Their modus operandi is to to issue a reject and resubmit late into the review process, assign a new manuscript number to the re-submission and then accept it after one round of quick reviews. As a consequence,

(1) The journal seems more exclusive because it has one more rejection on record for the same number of accepted papers.

(2) The processing time (submission to acceptance) appears much shorter.

This happens across disciplines.

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