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Kevin Dalby, Austin, Texas Professor, Explains Why Your Academic Papers Are Rejected from a Peer-Reviewed Journal

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A pivotal point in any academic researcher's career can come from submitting research to academic journals. Students and researchers alike from all around the globe fill the audience for peer-reviewed journals. These journals have high standards for publications and have rejected many potential research papers.

Dr. Kevin Dalby is a professor at The University of Texas in Austin. As a professional researcher studying mechanisms of cancer cell signaling to develop targeted therapeutic, Dalby's line of work requires familiarization with both journal's peer-review process and what type of research journals are looking to publish. Below, Dalby covers several essential points on why articles are commonly rejected from journals.

Understanding the Process

The number of submissions for journals continues to rise, so understanding where a paper goes after being submitted is crucial. Once academic writing goes out to a journal, it will be reviewed by a single journal editor or multiple. Due to the increase of entries, journals have been rejecting research internally before they reach the external peer review. If a paper is approved internally, it is then passed forward to a peer review.

Here are a few reasons why your academic paper was rejected from a peer-reviewed journal:

1. The reviewers perceived the paper as weak (or dull). When a document is being judged internally before a peer review, editors are looking to check off specific criteria such as the paper's overall value for the journal. The editor might ask questions such as: Is the paper pertinent to the journal's readers? Does the paper properly flow with recent and upcoming content? What is the overall quality and interest of the paper? Does the article run parallel with the writing style of the journal? The paper will face rejection if it does not live up to these expectations. If the research moves on to the peer review process, failure of approval might be a result of weak work. Declined papers will usually return to the author with beneficial improvement comments.

2. The paper did not pass the technical screening. Technical screenings fall in line with a standard check-list. If the work does not meet all requirements on the list, it will not the journal will not accept it. During this screening, reviewers are looking for red flags like plagiarism, lack of required format elements, unclear language or research, and failure to meet the journal's guidelines. Rejection can also accrue if a paper is submitted at the same time to multiple journals- such an action is not allowed.

3. The review process is flawed. Just like any human-run process that exists in the world, flaws are present in peer reviews. Thought every journal attempts to create a peer review platform based on fairness and equality, there are still unrighteous reviewers who come over as too aggressive or unprofessional in their comments. The problem is seen prevalently through biomedical research submissions.

4. The paper missed the journal's aim and scope. A journal strives to reach a particular aim and scope when appealing to its audiences. For example, a medical research journal that focuses on cancer elimination advancements might receive and refuse a submission that uses cancer research to discover new something in a field other than that sought in the aim and scope.