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This question already has an answer here:

Two months ago, I submitted a (mathematical) paper to a journal. On the journal's website, there is a status concerning the paper, e.g. "Rejected", "Awaiting reviewer selection" and so on.

About two weeks ago, the submitted paper's status was "Awaiting reviewer assignment", and then it changed to "Awaiting reviewer selection". This seems more like a backtrack in terms of statuses rather than a step forward to get the paper reviewed (correct me if I'm wrong).

Now my question is:

What could be the reason for that step back in terms of statuses?

(I always thought that if somebody declines to review the paper for some reason, then it will be rejected?)

marked as duplicate by David Richerby, user2390246, gman, jakebeal publications Jun 13 '16 at 15:21

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    "What could be the reason for that step back in terms of statuses?" We have no idea. Why don't you ask the journal? They're sure to know. – David Richerby Jun 13 '16 at 9:02
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What could be the reason for that step back in terms of statuses?

Without knowing the journal in detail, there is no way to know. Based on the names of the statuses, it seems possible that the editor has previously asked a few reviewers, but too many declined and the editor is now again on the hunt for more reviewers. This is not at all uncommon, and says nothing about the quality of your paper. Based on personal experience, at least 50% of all review requests are declined, and that is for reviewers that I know personally. When I have to ask reviewers that I as an editor do not personally know, the acceptance rate for reviews is closer to 20%.

That being said, for many submission systems the various author-visible statuses are just not very useful. I suggest you stop checking the status of your paper in the system and instead wait for mail from the editor.

(I always thought that if somebody declines to review the paper for some reason, then it will be rejected?)

No, why would this be? Reviewers have not actually read the paper when they decline the review. And, as I said above, many or most review requests are declined, usually because the prospective reviewer simply does not have the time.

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It might be that the first status

"Awaiting reviewer assignment"

was referring to the organizing committee assigning a reviewer for you paper and the later status of

"Awaiting reviewer selection"

was referring to the waiting before the selection of your paper by the reviewer.

Also could be that the second status simply reflects a backtrack, but from my experience with submitting papers even if someone declines to review your paper it will have to be reviewed at least once before it can rejected.

I say this because for all of my rejected papers i have received at least one review in the rejection email citing the reasons for which the paper had been dropped.

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