Journal Rejections: How Common Are They?

Irrespective of the researcher’s scientific profession, it is very common to be rejected by journals. The acceptance and rejection rate of scientific journals is an important criterion for choosing a journal for submission. However, information on the acceptance (or rejection) rates of journals is rarely available.

There are significant differences between different disciplines. For example, pharmacy has a higher acceptance rate than the social sciences. Moreover, open access journals usually have higher acceptance rates than subscription journals. If you want to learn more about journal acceptance rates, read this post.

Can Rejection/Acceptance Rates of Journals Be Calculated?

Unfortunately, the journal industry does not have a clear standard for calculating rejection/acceptance rates. The few things that can influence a journal’s acceptance/rejection rates are:

• Reputation of the journal (acceptance rates of prestigious international journals is lower than local journals)

• Total number of articles submitted to them

• Scope and purpose of the article (you can look at the website to understand the scope and purpose of the articles accepted by the journal. You can also read previous issues to see the published articles.)

• Number of articles submitted for peer review

Studies Related to Journal Acceptance/ Rejection Rates

Thomson Reuters (2012) performed a study on this aspect of journals in the publishing industry using the vast amount of data collected in the ScholarOne submission system. This system is used by more than 4,000 journals from more than 300 different publishers and includes commercial publishers, academic societies, and university presses. The aforementioned study presents the global average among articles and includes information on more than three million articles submitted during 2005-2010. From 2005 to 2010, the overall acceptance rate dropped from 40.6% to 37.1. The main reason probably was the increase in submissions from countries, such as China and India, which are usually less likely to be accepted.

In fact, the acceptance rates of different countries are interesting. In 2010, the rates of the best-performing countries (USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden) ranged from 46.8% to 51.9%. The rates of the worst-performing countries (China, Taiwan, India, Brazil, and Turkey) were within the range of 18.7–26.8%.

A study showed that the acceptance rate in open access journals is significantly higher than in others. They reported 4-16% differences for five different areas. If the number of journals in the fields they cover is used to measure the acceptance rate, the rate of open access and non-open access journals would be 41% and 33%, respectively. Generally, open access journals are much younger. Moreover, open access journals have spread faster in biomedicine, which has a higher acceptance rate than the social sciences.

How to Find Rejection/Acceptance Rates?

Determining acceptance rates of certain journals or disciplines may be difficult, but being accepted by a journal is essential for promotion and tenure activities. Journals with lower article acceptance rates are often considered more credible and “worthy”.

The method of calculating the acceptance rates of journals is different. Some journals use all received articles as a basis for calculating this amount. Other journals allow the editor to select which articles can be sent to the reviewers and calculate the acceptance rate based on those that are reviewed. Obviously, this is less than the total number of articles received. Also, many editors do not keep accurate records of this data and only provide an approximate estimate. In addition, the number of people associated with a particular area of ​​expertise affects the rate of acceptance and rejection. If only a few people can write an article in this area, it will increase the acceptance rate of the magazine.

Ways to Find Journal Acceptance Rates

  • Contact the Editor of the Journal

Try contacting the editor of the journal to see if s/he will share the acceptance rate.

  • Google the Journal Name

Some institutions also publish the acceptance rates of their journals on their home pages. Sometimes you can find the journal home page by searching the name of the journal or institution in Google.

  • American Psychological Association (APA) Journal Acceptance Rates

The APA provides statistics that include the number of received and accepted articles, and the percentage of rejected manuscripts from 2004 to 2013.

Does Your Decision to Publish Depend on Acceptance/Rejection Rates of Journals?

Along with the rejection/acceptance rate, you may want to consider the impact factor when selecting a journal. The impact factor refers to the number of citations that the article receives over time. High-impact journals often have a higher rejection rate. If you publish your work in a low-impact journal, it may affect your career or research programs, so it is important to find a balance between rejection and impact. Choose wisely and make sure you do not regret your choice.

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