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Top 10 reasons your manuscript may be rejected without review

Scientific writing and publishing have evolved considerably in the past century. This is partly due to changes in the way we think, design and do research. Technological advancements have also played a major role in this process. Not long ago, submissions used to be made by mail. I remember going to a courier service office to submit a hard copy of my manuscript along with a compact disk containing the figures. Electronic systems have simplified the submission process considerably, reducing turnaround times and making it easy to follow up the whole peer review process. Believe me, it used to be more difficult than it is now.

Nowadays, the number of submissions received by a leading journal in its field may be well above 1000 per year, which poses several challenges to editors and journal staff. Probably the biggest challenge for these journals these days is finding available reviewers. With the unstoppable growth of the publishing industry, the number of new publishers and journals launched each year is scary. As a result, senior researchers are receiving numerous review invitations weekly or even daily.

Very often, editors need to send out invitations to more than 10 potential reviewers to secure the one or two who will actually agree to review the manuscript. Of these, some will never submit a report. This is a huge problem, and there is no easy long-term solution. Some publishers are trying to find solutions by, for example, offering incentives to reviewers, including certificates and discounts in article processing charges for those who eventually decide to submit a manuscript to the very same journal. While this may have a positive impact in terms of the percentage of reviewers who agree to review a manuscript, the overall impact of this on the peer review process is little known.

Another strategy some journals adopt to reduce the burden on journal staff, editors and reviewers is being more selective in deciding which manuscripts should actually be sent out for peer review. As an example, the JAMA Internal Medicine reported that 78% of the manuscripts received in 2017 were rejected without review [1]. The current pre-review rejection rate of Parasites & Vectors (P&V) is 39%. Common reasons for rejection without peer review in P&V are listed in Box 1.

In 2022, for the first time, P&V’s impact factor surpassed the mark of 4. There is an increasing trend in the number of manuscripts received by P&V, not only due to the new impact factor, but because P&V continues to stand out as one of the leading journals in fields of parasitology and tropical medicine. As a response to the increasing number of submissions, we are inviting new editors and discussing strategies to improve the benefits of both editors and reviewers, to whom I would like to express my gratitude for their invaluable contributions to P&V.

Our team of editors will keep working tirelessly to ensure a rapid peer review process as far as possible. Nonetheless, in a time when short messages and videos are the rule, it is important to remember that speed does not mean quality, especially in the context of important issues, such as scientific publishing.

References

  1. Redberg RF. JAMA Internal Medicine—the year in review, 2017. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178:456–7.

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  2. Springer Nature. Parasites & Vectors. 2020. Submission guidelines. https://parasitesandvectors.biomedcentral.com/submission-guidelines. Accessed 8 Oct 2022.

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Correspondence to Filipe Dantas-Torres.

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Filipe Dantas-Torres is the Editor-in-Chief of Parasites & Vectors.

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Dantas-Torres, F. Top 10 reasons your manuscript may be rejected without review. Parasites Vectors 15, 418 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-022-05543-w

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-022-05543-w