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Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Quick Rejection

That was fast! I submitted a paper to a journal a few days ago, and I already got a rejection - the fastest one I've ever gotten.

Actually, it was what is known as a "desk rejection", where the journal editors make an initial judgement that the paper is not appropriate for the journal before sending it out to a referee. The decision wasn't surprising, since they editor pointed out a problem with the paper we were already aware of.

But, we didn't mind too much. In fact, I wish more editors did that (not reject my papers, of course, but make a quick decision). It's far better to get a rejection quickly than to go through the alternative: to have the paper sent out to a referee who takes several months to get back to you, get a revise and resubmit, satisfy the referee's demands, and THEN to have the editor tell you that the paper "doesn't make a significant contribution." That way I can either fix the problem or send it out to another journal quickly without having to wait six months or a year.

I know the editors of the journal are trying to increase the quality of the journal. Making quick editorial decisions like this are a good step - if authors know they'll get a quick decision (and yes, it was a reasonable one), they'll be more likely to send their work there rather than to a close substitute journal. And more submissions means more choices, and therefore higher quality publications.

As Shakespeare would say, "If the deed t'were done, tis best t'were done quickly."

At the other extreme, my colleagues and I have all had similar experiences at a particular journal that often takes 12-14 months to get a review back. That's not unheard of at econ journals, but it is WAY too long for a finance one (most of the better finance journals have a 2-3 month turnaround). As a result, we've all decided that we'll send papers there only if there's no reasonable alternative.

Now we figure out whether to fix the issues the editors mentioned or to just send it out to the next journal as is and roll the dice. I know one thing - it's not doing us any good on my desk, after all.

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