Common reasons for rejection

Your manuscript can be rejected for many reasons but these can generally be divided into technical and editorial reasons.

Technical reasons usually require more work such as further experiments or analysis before your work can be published. Technical reasons for rejection include:

  • Incomplete data such as too small a sample size or missing or poor controls
  • Poor analysis such as using inappropriate statistical tests or a lack of statistics altogether
  • Inappropriate methodology for answering your hypothesis or using old methodology that has been surpassed by newer, more powerful methods that provide more robust results
  • Weak research motive where your hypothesis is not clear or scientifically valid, or your data does not answer the question posed
  • Inaccurate conclusions on assumptions that are not supported by your data

These rejection reasons can be avoided by investing enough time in reading around the subject area, carefully deciding on the topic to focus on, the hypothesis and planning a comprehensive experiment as outlined in the Springer Nature Journal Author Academy: Writing a Journal Manuscript.

Editorial reasons for rejection include:

  • Out of scope for the journal
  • Not enough of an advance or of enough impact for the journal
  • Research ethics ignored such as consent from patients or approval from an ethics committee for animal research
  • Lack of proper structure or not following journal formatting requirements
  • Lack of the necessary detail for readers to fully understand and repeat the authors’ analysis and experiments
  • Lack of up-to-date references or references containing a high proportion of self-citations
  • Has poor language quality such that it cannot be understood by readers
  • Difficult to follow logic or poorly presented data.
  • Violation of publication ethics

These rejection reasons can be avoided by following the journal specific guidelines, ensuring you write a coherent paper in good English and honestly assessing you work when deciding on a target journal. All of these points are covered in the Writing a Journal Manuscript and the Writing in English tutorials.