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Establishing Sensible and Practical Guidelines for Desk Rejections

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Publishing has become, in several respects, more challenging in recent years. Academics are faced with evolving ethics that appear to be more stringent in a bid to reduce scientific fraud, the emergence of science watchdogs that are now scrutinizing the published literature with critical eyes to hold academics, editors and publishers more accountable, and a barrage of checks and balances that are required between when a paper is submitted and eventually accepted, to ensure quality control. Scientists are often under increasing pressure to produce papers in an increasingly stringent publishing environment. In such a climate, timing is everything, as is the efficiency of the process. Academics appreciate that rejections are part of the fabric of attempting to get a paper published, but they expect the reason to be clear, based on careful evaluation of their work, and not on superficial or unsubstantiated excuses. A desk rejection occurs when a paper gets rejected even before it has entered the peer review process. This paper examines the features of some desk rejections and offers some guidelines that would make desk rejections valid, fair and ethical. Academics who publish are under constant pressure to do so quickly, but effectively. They are dependent on the editors’ good judgment and the publisher’s procedures. Unfair, unsubstantiated, or tardy desk rejections disadvantage academics, and editors and publishers must be held accountable for wasting their time, resources, and patience.

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Correspondence to Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva.

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Below is a desk rejection of a manuscript submitted on February 17, 2017 (Friday), by the first author of this paper to an Elsevier journal, Personality and Individual Differences, and rejected just three days after submission. How could the quality and content of the paper have been evaluated in such a short space of time by an individual who does not appear to have any qualifications in the subject matter, even more so over the weekend, between the Friday of submission and the Monday of rejection? The reader’s attention is drawn to the suggestion that the rejected paper might then be suitable for publication in an article processing fee-charging open access journal, Heliyon, through an Elsevier portable peer review service.

“On Monday, February 20, 2017 1:24 PM, Personality and Individual Differences [email redacted] wrote:

Ms. Ref. No.: [redacted]

Title: [email redacted]

Journal: Personality and Individual Differences

Dear Dr. [redacted],

Thank you for your interest and submission to “Personality and Individual Differences”. Unfortunately, after an initial evaluation, I feel your manuscript is not appropriate for this journal’s readership.

Please note: while the editors feel that “Personality and Individual Differences” is not the appropriate venue for your manuscript, it may be suitable for publication in, an open access journal from Elsevier publishing quality research papers across all disciplines. Heliyon’s team of experts provides editorial excellence, fast publication, and high visibility for your paper. If you are interested in having your manuscript transferred to Heliyon, please follow this link:

[link redacted]

“Please consider joining the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences (PAID), which offers benefits to you and your students—go to:

Yours sincerely,

Vandana Agarwal

Journal Manager

Personality and Individual Differences”

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Teixeira da Silva, J.A., Al-Khatib, A., Katavić, V. et al. Establishing Sensible and Practical Guidelines for Desk Rejections. Sci Eng Ethics 24, 1347–1365 (2018).

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