It has been approximately 2 years that we are trying to a push a paper(CS) to get it published. We think, the work is/was a novel that focused on the development of a new dynamic system that works under uncertainty constraints. However, it gets rejected every time and the most frustrating thing is that the reviews we get are completely absurd. Please see the following reasons of rejection in brief (Duration of review is written in bracket). Submission to subsequent journals also included after incorporating review comments of the previous journal.

Journal 1: The abstract should not contain citation. [14 months]

Journal 2: The paper is out of scope.[2.5 months] -- The paper was actually coming in the scope of the journal. But, after request also, the EIC didn't take it.

Journal 3: This journal have stopped publishing papers related to ... [1 month]

Journal 4: Similar type of work was done in [some old papers published by journals in Beall's list]. Hence, it does not offer any novelty. [7 months] -- We are sure that the reviewer didn't read the paper. Probably, (she)he did some google search over the title. Got something and commented.

After lots of improvement and getting the paper reviewed by few fellow researchers in our lab, we are not getting anything substantial about such random rejection.

  • What could be some possible problem?
  • Should we put the paper in the garbage and move on with other works?
  • Are these predatory publishers (published articles) the rejection for our paper?
  • 7
    It sounds based on the limited information you've supplied here, that the journals you are submitting to don't think this topic is of interest to their current readership. Either this topic is so unpopular that nobody is interested in publishing on it right now (that can happen), or you're not submitting to the journals that are interested.
    – ff524
    Dec 1, 2016 at 6:58
  • 5
    One thing that stuck out to me is your comment with "after getting the paper reviewed by fellow researchers in our lab" (my emphasis). Given the type of reviews, you really need to get feedback from outside. Dec 1, 2016 at 7:11
  • 2
    I would call the rejection reason of journal 1 insulting, if they didn't give you any other reasons apart from that. Was that an excerpt or actually the only reason they gave? Dec 1, 2016 at 7:25
  • 6
    One possibility to consider: your paper isn't clear, so the reviewers aren't understanding it (or it is so confusing they don't think it is worth putting the effort into reviewing it in depth).
    – Davidmh
    Dec 1, 2016 at 8:29
  • 7
    I feel that it is worth mentioning that given your previous questions here, a picture is forming that you are having an unusually hard time getting your work published in general. That might indicate that you are doing something in a sub-optimal way, and it might help to try to figure out what that is rather than focusing on each separate case. Dec 1, 2016 at 8:42

4 Answers 4


I don't think there is only one reason for all the rejections you got. The first journal seemed to reject you because of a formality, which could have been prevented (abstracts usually never have citations). Maybe they think if you can't follow the submission guidelines to every last bit you don't deserve to be published (which can be unreasonable).

After that your research was already 14 months old. Did you do a new literature research? The novelty could have faded during that time. Journal 2's and 3's rejections seem legit and happened in a relatively reasonable time frame.

I guess journal 4's answer does look like the editor/referee didn't read it in detail. But before accusing them of lack of interest or ethics, you should ask yourself if your research has the quality and novelty to be published.

You also need to overthink your choice of journals. High-impact journals are often not the best choice for your research due to their high standards. They also tend to not publish very specialized articles.

My concrete advice: Review your article and try to improve it. Get criticism from colleagues and take it seriously. Compare your article to similar articles from your field and apply those same standards. Then choose a journal that is common in your field and that published articles related to your work and try there. Good luck!

  • 3
    An addition regarding #4 and the "predatory" journals: if something similar has been done before, the novelty is gone, no matter the impact / ethics of the journal it was published in.
    – VonBeche
    Dec 1, 2016 at 8:01
  • 10
    Good answer (+1), but as for the first journal, rejecting a paper after 14 months due to a reference in the abstract is certainly unacceptable. Desk-rejection after, say, 14 days would be reasonable. Dec 1, 2016 at 9:24
  • 3
    @lighthousekeeper I agree that taking 14 months to make such a decision is too long, but my point was that it could have been prevented in the first place. Alas, it doesn't matter at this point. One should not linger on such matters for too long and just keep going forward.
    – Ian
    Dec 1, 2016 at 9:27
  • That is true. I certainly added a few things. However, by that time, few new techniques had already popped over scholarly pages. Our method probably didn't do better these new ones. However, to be honest, I didn't compare our method with these newly published works. Probably, this deficiency in the paper is leading to the rejection. Thank you for such a wonderful answer and insights. As @lighthousekeeper pointed out, a '14' days would have saved my whole work. This work is now fully rubbish as pointed out by someone earlier.
    – Coder
    Dec 1, 2016 at 10:26
  • 3
    @Coder Porentially good articles becoming obsolete by long review processes are a sad reality. I wish you good luck with your work.
    – Ian
    Dec 1, 2016 at 10:29

In my opinion, journals #2, #3, and #4 tend to reinforce the same underlying problem with your paper. It appears that the main theme of your paper is now obsolete and of not much interest to the community. The journals are NOT interested because they think their readership is no longer interested in that topic.

Secondly, either your paper does not offer any significant improvement to existing techniques (just minor/cosmetic changes, or no motivation behind your variations) or you haven't done a good job in highlighting them.

As suggested above, get some help from outside (your lab) including, if possible, from outside India. At the very least, however, get advice from a respected researcher (e.g. someone with a few papers in that or similarly reputed journal). Perhaps you're over-estimating the quality or relevance or layout or contribution of your work.

Best of luck.


I have a different theory. When a reviewer meets with a paper that is unsound but cannot prove that it is unsound, they generally side step and find other mistakes to reject the paper. It takes a lot of work (at least several days) to find a solid proof that the method cannot provide the results demonstrated. Not many people have the time or will to do that. I have witnessed a paper rejected with proof to be accepted by another journal, for that, I cannot blame the reviewers.

To solve the issue, try to show many consistent results to convince reviewers that your results are not made up. A similar situation happened to me at the start of my PhD, the reviewers were a little more direct and helped me out to figure the issue. A two full-page of results taken from multiple images and a detailed verbal explanation of how the method works convinced them. Try the same.

  • Thank you very much sir. I did it and submitted to other journal and is now under review.
    – Coder
    Feb 17, 2017 at 15:34
  • Glad to be of help, and good luck this time. Feb 17, 2017 at 16:19

In addition, consider having it edited by an external party before you submit the paper. (It's something I happen to do, among other things, which I mention for the sake of full disclosure.) Why? It is possible that your writing contains many gaps that you and your colleagues fill in automatically but that make the paper hard to read for others. An external party is much more likely to spot those gaps and he or she may also be a much better writer.

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