Having your journal article rejected is a big blow, but there is a lot that you can do even after that. It can be a learning experience. Even experienced researchers face rejection for their papers even after their credibility and expertise has been established. Therefore, we suggest that researchers should focus not on avoiding rejection but on what their options are after rejection.

How to appeal an editorial decision?

One of the things that you can do is appeal the editorial decision. Generally, for scholarly articles that are of an opinion nature, it is less likely that an appeal will overturn the editor’s decision. These usually include commentaries, book reviews, and author viewpoints where an editor’s views on readability and relevance weigh heavily. Additionally, it is very common for peer reviewers to have differing opinions. Just because one editor hands out negative comments on your article, will not mean that they are biased or irrelevant. You have to keep in mind that the editor’s decision is the final one on your manuscript.  

Usually editors don’t expect frequent appeals and they rarely reverse their original decisions. If you do receive a rejection, it is better that you submit to another journal. However, if you believe that there is space for a genuine appeal, you can do so. But there is a certain protocol that you have to follow when you appeal an editorial decision. Let’s take a look at how you can do that.

If you want to appeal an editor’s decision, submit an appeal letter to the journal’s online editorial office. Address this letter to the editor. Your letter should clearly explain the basis for an appeal. You should:

  • Explain in detail why you disagree with the decision and provide specific responses to any of the editor’s/reviewer’s comments that were instrumental to have your paper rejected. 
  • If there is any new information or research, provide the data that you would like the journal to take into consideration. 
  • If the reviewer has made technical errors while reviewing your manuscript, provide a solid evidence of the same. 
  • If you think that the reviewer has a conflict of interest, include evidence for the same. 

After receiving your appeal, the editors may involve any associate editors who handled the peer review of the original submission. This depends on the nature of the appeal. Editors consider only one appeal per article and all the decisions taken on that appeal will be final. This is because the timely review and decision-making process for new submissions will take precedence over appeals. The process for appeals is more rigorous than that for a regular submission. Even after a thorough re-assessment, if the editors feel the need for another revaluation, they send over the paper for another round of review. 

When should you appeal an editorial decision?

Authors have a general misconception that appeals do not work. However, if the case is strong enough and objective evidence is provided with supporting data or evidence, the editors are definitely likely to give it a good chance. But this does not mean that every time an author gets a rejection, they should appeal against the editorial decision. This is a benefit that journals provide and it has to be used with utmost discretion. The author should ideally appeal an editorial decision only if they feel that the evaluation has been unfair. To determine this, they should first take the opinion of a supervisor, senior colleague, or some other expert. The tone of your appeal letter should be polite and objective and you should refrain from using any accusatory or abusive language.  

If the basis of the rejection of your article was poor editing and proofreading, it’s imperative that you send the paper over to a reputed editing and proofreading company. At PaperTrue, our experienced academic editors will leave suggestions in your article regarding its structure and content. They will help you present a more cohesive paper, if that was the problem in the first place. Another reason why it is beneficial is that you get a set of objective eyes to look over your article and give you objective suggestions. Was there a problem with the tone? Have you not followed the guidelines to the t? Our editors will help you check off these minute things that can contribute to the rejection of your journal article.  

Rejection happens to the best of us but it can be a learning experience. If you want to know about why your paper was rejected and what else can you do apart from appealing the editorial decision, check out our article on the PaperTrue Resource Center on how to handle a rejection