Student - June 1, 2017


Stijn van Gils

Dear editor,
I always knew it was a bit of a gamble. Actually, it’s a gamble whenever you submit a manuscript to an academic journal. First you need the editor to approve of the study, and then you need the reviewers to agree.

So hey, that my evening should begin with a standard rejection email is par for the course. Anyway, you have prepared me well for rejection by announcing the rejection percentages loud and clear – and repeatedly – on the website. ‘Please be aware that more than half the articles we receive are not even forwarded to reviewers.’

What I mean to say is: I am an experienced receiver of rejections and I have a lot of understanding for your situation. You must get flooded with manuscripts from PhD candidates. Each one the work of a young researcher whose contract has probably already run out, and whose next job probably depends entirely on whether they can get their work published in your journal. It can’t be much fun to be confronted with that misery day in day out. But it is crucial for the sciences that journals remains critical. So I have great respect for your work.

I do have one frustration that I would like to share with you, however. Why, oh why do you all use such complex systems for the submission of manuscripts? Why do you insist on knowing right from the start endless codes and the work addresses of all 30 co-authors, if you are going to reject most manuscripts straightaway anyway? And why is it that most of you use exactly the same system, from the same company, and yet everything  is totally incompatible with everything else, so we have to fill in everything all over again for every journal?

I hope you can alleviate my frustration. Apologies if you receive several versions of this email: I have asked the readers of my column to send it too.

Kind regards,