Finding the right home for your rejected manuscript

Elsevier’s new Author Desk service helps you make a fast, informed decision

Red stairway

When you’ve spent months completing your research and preparing your manuscript, it can be disheartening to receive a rejection.

There are several reasons a submission may be rejected, from insufficient scientific rigor to poor language quality. Many manuscripts are turned down because they are out of scope, i.e. they don’t fit well with the aims of the journals to which they have been submitted. When that happens, it means more work for the author in searching for the right home for the publication.

But rejection isn’t the end of the road; in fact, there’s evidence to suggest it’s actually good for an article. According to our research, 22 percent of rejected manuscripts end up being published in a journal with an Impact Factor equal to, or higher than, that of the journal to which they  originally submitted. The implication, then, is that authors use rejection as an opportunity to improve the manuscript before submitting the upgraded paper to a new journal.

Finding that ideal journal is the key. Homing in on a suitable journal can be a long, complex process. What if you could automatically get a list of alternative journals with all the information you need at the click of a button right after the initial rejection? That’s what we wanted to provide with a pilot in 2015 – Author Desk – which we’re now rolling out to more journals.

Elsevier’s new Author Desk

If the journal to which you submit offers the Author Desk services and your manuscript is rejected as out of scope, a few days later you will receive an email inviting you to visit the Author Desk page. This page provides a list of alternative journals, along with details about each journal and links to find out more and submit.

Actionable intelligence

Author Desk works by searching for journal matches based on the title and abstract of your original submission. The technology behind the feature, which is also used in Elsevier’s Journal Finder, searches through more than 2,000 journals and ranks the best matches according to how well they fit your manuscript. You can then compare the journals immediately on criteria such as Impact Factor and publication speed, helping you make a fast, informed decision.

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We tested an earlier version of Author Desk during a pilot in 2015, with 7 journals. The response was very positive; more than 60 percent of authors opened their email invitations to use the Author Desk.

We’re now in the process of offering the service to 50 more journals, and continuing to gather information to ensure the suggestions we’re offering are the right ones.

Rejection isn’t the end of the road; it’s an opportunity to make sure your manuscript finds the right home. We’re very excited to be developing this technology so we can give you the information you need at your fingertips to make the right decision for your research. Stay tuned for further developments!


Written by

Marc Price

Written by

Marc Price

Marc A. Price is the Product Manager for Unsuccessful Submissions in the Researcher Experience team at Elsevier, based in Amsterdam. He is responsible for helping to improve the experience of the author of unsuccessful submissions by creating new products (such as the Author Desk) and supporting existing routes (such as the Article Transfer Service). He has been working with Elsevier since 2002.


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