Top reasons for research paper rejection
Research Writing

Top reasons for research paper rejection

Monali Ghosh
Monali Ghosh

And what you can do about it?

In a quick conversation with any academic, you will know how common research paper rejection by journals is. In spite of stories such as Nobel-winning papers getting rejected, research paper rejection still hurts.

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At, we talk to researchers and publishers every day in our journey to build the easiest and simplest research writing platform. Based on our conversations, the following are the major technical and editorial reasons provided for research paper rejection.

Technical Reasons

  1. Your research’s domain/areas are not within the scope of the journal. So the research is not of interest to readers of the journal
  2. Your manuscript does not have all the mandatory sections of the journal
  3. Your manuscript has plagiarism, meaning it has duplicate content from published research papers
  4. Lack of sufficient data to establish the statements presented as a part of the research
  5. Your results cannot be generalized
  6. Clear, recognizable or standard procedures and methodology were not used in establishing results
  7. The arguments and data presented are not complete in establishing the core idea presented
  8. Results presented are statistically not valid
  9. Research contains a bunch of observations but cannot be recognized as a full study
  10. Conclusions/assumptions are not supported with enough data

Editorial reasons

  1. Author guidelines stipulated by the journal was not followed in presenting your research paper
  2. You have used too many references from your or your co-author’s past work (self-citations)
  3. References used do not have enough impact factor or they are too old
  4. Poor language quality or choice of words
  5. The arguments are not clear, invalid or illogical
  6. Language, structure or figures are not clear
  7. The same article was found to be submitted to multiple journals
  8. Research is not of enough impact for the journal

What can be done?

Even though there are a lot of reasons for research paper rejection, there are still steps you can take to improve your chances at getting submitted.

  1. Choose the journal carefully — Your article should fall within the scope of the journal you are submitting to. Read recently published articles in the journal to ensure this. Not doing this ground work would mean that you will be submitting your article to a journal that would not even consider your paper to begin with.
  2. Build research of impact — To get published your content’s impact should be in line with what has been published so far in the journal. You will have to explain what are the gaps in knowledge your paper is addressing. How does your research stand in the context of research in the space you are writing on. You have to explain the theoretical implications and the practical applications of the concept you are proposing.
  3. Follow journal guidelines — There are journals which are lenient with authoring guidelines. Still majority of journals insist that you follow the rules and specifications to the tee. Ensure your manuscript has all the mandatory sections of the journal and follows the formatting rules. Using tools such as can help you achieve journal compliance easily.
  4. Construct a strong argument — Clearly present your idea and validate them with sufficient data. Properly arrive from the data to conclusions without any invalid or un-validated assumptions. Use clear, recognizable procedures and methodology to present your data and arrive at conclusions. Ensure that the results are statistically valid. Talk to a reviewer or mentor to validate if your research can be concluded as complete.
  5. Use good references — Use latest and good references — references from sources which have good impact factor. Avoid too many self-citations.
  6. Communicate effectively — Becoming good at research writing is a critical part of writing a successful research paper. Ensure good choice of words and language quality. Arguments should be clear, valid and logical. Present the story in the order of logic, not in the chronological order of experiments. Ensure that language, structure and figures presented are all clear.
  7. Write review pieces — Research paper reviews and responses have a better chance of getting published. This is true, especially if you have started your career as a researcher. And you will get a better idea of the publishing eco-system. Publishers and journals like pieces which stimulate discussion on a recently published article.
  8. Writing vs editing — To begin with, try to convey your knowledge in simple words. Plan all the different sections that needs to be written and start writing in your own words. Once you have written all the arguments, you can then proceed to edit/format.
  9. Keep the core idea clear — Don’t try to cram everything you know about the topic in one single paper. Write the basic argument of your research paper and build supporting evidence around it. If you feel that you have multiple ideas, you can split them into separate papers than confuse the readers on what is the research you are advancing.
  10. Get good co-authors — Even though majority of research sounds solitary, it need not be. Having good co-authors could actually improve your chances . You can split the work, be more effective and efficient. Authors having complimentary skills contribute to the research in way that improves the final output.
  11. Use plagiarism checkers to ensure originality of your content
  12. Use good reference managers such as Mendeley, Zotero or Google Scholar to get references of good quality
  13. Ensure all data presented is clear and legible
  14. Read good research papers in your domain. Understand right methodologies used for presenting and validating hypotheses.

At we help researchers reduce the chances of research paper rejection. One of the ways we do this is by auto-formatting your content to 100% of the journal guidelines, in a click.

You can learn more about what we do and how we help you in your research writing here.

For further reading:

  1. —8 reasons I rejected your article
  2. Reasons why papers get rejected
  3. — Submitting to a journal and peer review2
  4. What are some good tips and strategies for writing an academic paper?
  5. What are useful tools for writing academic papers
  6. How to increase citation count of your research