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When to dispute a decision

It is disappointing when you are rejected from a journal however it is important to know when it is appropriate to contest a decision and when to submit to another journal. We recommend that before you decide your next steps you take a few days to consider you options.

Appeals of a rejection decision are only successful in a handful of cases and usually only when you can provide strong evidence or new data that can respond to and alleviate the concerns of the editor and reviewers. As appeals are matters of journal policy they are given lower priority than new submissions and may take at least several weeks, if not longer, to resolve. Appeals must be rational arguments not emotional ones so be sure you have enough evidence before trying to change the editor’s mind.

If you do decide to go ahead with an appeal letter you should:

  • Clearly explain why you disagree with the decision and provide any new information that you would like the editors to take into consideration. This should not be a repetition of what you have included in your original submission or cover letter.
  • If the editors or reviewers have highlighted shortcomings with your paper that you think you can address please indicate how you would do this, such as providing further data.
  • Include a point-by-point response to any reviewer comments.
  • Provide any evidence to support your opinion when you believe a reviewer has made technical errors in their assessment of your manuscript or has been biased.

TIP: Do not make appeals personal attacks on the editors or reviewers. Editors make decisions on manuscripts using a variety of criteria, if one of your manuscripts is rejected it does not mean the journal or the editor won’t be willing to consider your work again in the future.

Generally, only one letter defending your submission will be accepted for each of the review stages (editorial review and peer review). If you are unsuccessful after sending a response letter, then you should strongly consider selecting another journal.

There may be cases when you want to submit to another journal prior to receiving a decision. For example, if your results are time sensitive, the review process is taking much longer than normal for that journal, and the editors cannot speed up the process. In this case, it is important to notify the editors that you are withdrawing your manuscript, and get confirmation that this it has been withdrawn, before you submit it to a different journal.