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I'm about to submit my first scholarly manuscript to the top journal in my field, which has an acceptance rate of 20-25%. One of the co-authors on my paper, besides being generally well-known in this field, happens to be on the editorial board of this journal as an associate editor. Obviously I imagine that he'll automatically be excluded from the review process due to conflict of interest, but does their affiliation with the journal increase the chance of the paper getting accepted? I should note that the paper has already been through several rounds of internal revision and I've received excellent feedback so far from both this particular coauthor and others.

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In principle, no.

In actuality? It likely does, under a couple of different mechanisms:

  1. An editor might be slightly more likely to give your paper the "benefit of the doubt" if its a borderline case between Revise/Reject, etc. This may also be true if your co-authors are "known" names, regardless of their editorial position.
  2. An AE at a journal likely has extensive experience writing for, and reviewing, papers in that journal. As such, they probably have a good sense what kind of papers they're looking for, the tone they should be written in, etc.

So the answer, in a practical sense, is likely "Yes, but not by a huge amount." And possibly not after controlling for recognition and experience.

  • As an AE for a journal, I can say that pt 2 can be quite important. The written journal scope and guidelines to authors does tell authors what we are looking for, but as an AE, I know which parts are really important and in what circumstances trade-offs might be acceptable. My journal is big on rigorous validation results (more so than most other journals in our field), but I know that if the paper is highly generalisable and highly novel and the data aren't easily obtainable for validation as rigorous as we'd like, then as long as we discuss & acknowledge the limitations, that can be okay. – Significance Jul 28 '16 at 0:42
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All things considered, a paper coauthored by an editor should not improve the chances of getting accepted.

It is unlikely that the reviewers will be aware that one of the coauthors is an associate editor, so their reviews will be probably not be influenced by that. This is even more obvious in case the reviews are double-blind.

It is possible (although also unlikely) that the editor responsible for your paper might take a slightly more favorable view to your paper in case the reviews are borderline. However, in any case this will not improve your chances much.

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    There is another side to the story though. The editor presumably knows what the journal is looking and probably can write something that is more "publishable". I agree that once written, who the authors are does not matter a lot, although I think the "borderline" is pretty wide in many fields. – StrongBad Jul 27 '16 at 19:46

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