Reasons why journals reject manuscripts and how to avoid them


Rejection is the norm in academic publishing. Even the top researchers have experienced rejections. The issue is so pandemic that several peer-reviewed studies have investigated the reasons for rejection. These reports offer valuable insights from journals’ editors and help the emerging academicians to avoid making these mistakes.

Here are some top reasons for journal rejection.

Choosing the wrong Journal:  Everyone wants to publish their research in top journals with the highest impact factors. Unfortunately, many manuscripts are rejected outright by journals without any peer review, because the manuscript is not appropriate for the journal’s readership or does not fit into the journal’s aims and scope. Most of the time, the high receiving of the journal also leads to the rejection of the manuscripts. Instead of adopting a ‘top-down’ approach in selecting journals, it is advised to choose journals that are the best fit for your article. Identify the right journal based on the targeted reader or the appropriate geographic or demographic profile of your intended audience.

Technical Grounds of rejection: Many journals reject articles on technical grounds. This holds especially true for scientific research. While writing a manuscript for publication, authors must ensure that they do not commit the following common mistakes.

  • Incomplete data (e.g. too small sample size or missing or poor controls)
  • Poor data analysis (e.g. using inappropriate statistical tests or a lack of statistics)
  • Choice of an incorrect method or model that is not suitable for the problem to be studied/ old methodology that has been surpassed by newer, more powerful methods/ Weak methodology that cannot do justice to the hypotheses being tested
  • Weak research question or poorly drafted hypotheses
  • Inaccurate conclusions on assumptions that are not supported by the data
  • Lack of the necessary details for readers to fully understand and repeat the authors’ analysis and experiments

Editorial Grounds for Rejection: Many journals reject manuscripts due to poor writing style. Writing scientific articles is a skill by itself that an author needs to learn. Some of the common mistakes one needs to avoid are:

  • Poor writing in terms of language, clarity, improper structuring of the manuscript, etc.
  • The article does not follow the styling and formatting suggested by the journal. This is a very common problem and one of the biggest reasons for rejection
  • The manuscript lacks proper reference for literature survey or data sources or does not have all the proper charts, or graphs required
  • Violation of publication ethics: for instance, plagiarism, submitted to multiple journals simultaneously or has been published earlier


All these mistakes can be avoided by careful planning before writing the manuscript. After selecting the right journal for publication, read some of the latest editions of the journal to understand the type of articles they prefer, the styling of the articles, and the topics they are focusing on.

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