Relationships are complex things; some are happy, long-lived and successful and others run their course and come to an often acrimonious end. Sometimes, though break-ups can be reversed and partnerships that have been sundered are restored, but often on rocky foundations. Think of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Take That; Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, Bros or Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson.
The relationship between authors and journal editors are equally complex. We review each other’s qualities, seek a meeting of minds and hope for quality publication, but often the outcome for the author is not a happy one. Journals however don’t adopt the Taylor and Burton approach to partnership and are more in the Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn mould. Editorial decisions are final and irrevocable.
JHND Editor often receives emails from rejected authors along the lines of:
Thank you for your email of 9th October informing us of your decision on manuscript JHN-2017-012345. My coauthors and I have carefully considered the comments from the reviewers and are confident that we can address all of the concerns in a revised manuscript. If we do this, would you be prepared to consider the paper as a resubmission for publication.
The answer to these emails is always a very polite no, for a number of reasons:
- JHND receives many times more manuscript submissions than it can ever hope to publish and at the present time is accepting only 15% of all manuscripts received. Even though we only publish online the journal still has a page budget which limits the number of papers that we are able to publish to around 80 per year.
- Decisions are based partly on the recommendations of reviewers and also on editorial assessment of the likelihood of future citation of the work. Reviewers are the people who provide us with their expert viewpoint on the content and quality of the paper. They are an essential part of the editorial process as our senior editorial team cannot possibly be experts in all areas of nutrition and dietetics. However, there are some papers which although very well written and presenting research of a high standard, just don’t fit well with the scope of our journal, or are unlikely to be of interest to readers in the broader nutrition and dietetic community.
Having made a decision which integrates editorial priorities with reviewer comments, that decision is not open for further discussion and challenge. Once we have reached a final decision to reject a paper we do not consider resubmission of the same work, even if original reviewer comments can be addressed.