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What do journal editors want?

Journal editors evaluate all manuscripts that are submitted to their journal, select those which they consider to be suitable for the journal to send for peer review, and consider peer reviewers’ advice to make a final decision about what gets published. Therefore, it is important to know how they make their decisions.

Journal editors are busy and usually have to make an initial decision on the suitability of a paper quickly. When first faced with a manuscript they usually look at the cover letter, abstract, conclusion and references. They use this to judge whether the submission is in scope for the journal and of sufficient impact. Editors are always trying to weigh up the novelty and significance of a paper against the expectations of the readership and the impact of the journal.

Journal editors want to publish good quality science that is of interest to their readers. Your submission is more likely to be accepted if it:

  • Is within the scope of the journal
  • Is novel and describes research that advances the field
  • Adds to an active research field
  • Is carefully prepared and formatted with all required sections present
  • Uses clear and concise language
  • Follows ethical standards

Your manuscript should relay a scientific message that clearly explains the importance of the study.

TIP: once you have written your manuscript get a colleague to read it and provide feedback on how the manuscript flows. If necessary rewrite your manuscript so it reads well and grabs the attention of the editor.