A dump journal is not an indiscriminate garbage heap

Sep 02 2014 Published by under Peer Review

I use the phrase "credible application" a lot when I talk about grant submission.

It holds true for manuscript submission as well.

I suspect some people may think that what they perceive as a "dump journal" of last resort will not require the most polished of manuscripts. This isn't true in my experience. Dump journal papers may be limited in scope but it is a mistake to think the journal will take nonsensical crap which has been prepared without much care.

If nothing else, in your snobbery, consider that the reviewers are going to be more likely to think that Acta Bunnica Hoppica Scandinavica Part C is a respectable journal and less likely to think it is a dumping ground. So if you send up something that has been only cursorily prepared, this is going to be an insult to them personally.

This can be the difference between "Major Revisions, resend for review" and "Minor Revisions". This can be the difference between "Reject" and something less final.

13 responses so far

  • Ola says:

    A couple of the lower rank journals I'm involved with (IF~5) have recently implemented variations on a theme of "painless publishing" or "your paper your way". The idea is to be less picky about formatting at the initial submission stages (figure size, fonts, margins, word limits etc.) and then knock the paper into shape once it is accepted. The journals like it because it means less/no work for them at the initial manuscript screening level. The down-side is we see a lot of papers clearly formatted for other journals and thus probably rejected from them. Believe me, as reviewers/editors we can often tell why it got rejected and we can definitely tell whether you dealt with the problem before sending it back out again.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    I've heard of one journal where the authors submitted their initial manuscript and then heard nothing until the received galley proofs...

  • drugmonkey says:

    Ola- yeah, but the main reason to fix stuff from the prior review is *you might get the same reviewers*! Also, even if you don't get the same reviewers...the next ones will find the same flaws.

  • K99er says:

    If the flaws are "lack of sufficient mechanistic insight" or "lack of in vivo relevance," i.e., the default critiques of the fancy journals, then isn't it ok to resubmit to a lower tier journal without making any changes?

  • thorazine says:

    K99er - yes! Though you may want to rewrite bits that seem to have been misunderstood.

    I have to admit that my most successful publishing experiences have involved submitting sub-glam, addressing reviewers' concerns, then submitting the resulting paper to the glam journal. Worked great.

  • toto says:

    "I have to admit that my most successful publishing experiences have involved submitting sub-glam, addressing reviewers' concerns, then submitting the resulting paper to the glam journal. Worked great."

    Coincidence. I'm making a major revision of a (computational) paper, with new experiments and all. I'm vaguely toying with the idea of maybe indulging in this kind of chicanery right now...

    What I'm mostly afraid is what DM mentioned above - what if I hit the same reviewers? Awkward...

  • drugmonkey says:

    Reviewers shouldn't mind if the manuscript comes back to them significantly changed. Everyone appreciates effort, right?

  • drugmonkey says:

    k99er- sure, but be careful you aren't submitting a Glam style writeup to a journal where the reviewers are expecting a more sober and scholarly tone.

  • Dave says:

    to a journal where the reviewers are expecting a more sober and scholarly tone

    hahahaha! Nice pop at the glam mags there DM.

  • thorazine says:

    toto - there's no chicanery about this. A first submission to a journal is not a binding agreement - after all, _they_ can still reject _you_, even after you've responded to the reviews.

    I assume you wouldn't be thinking about this if the things you did in response to the reviews hadn't dramatically changed the way you thought about your data. If that's true, why not go for it?

  • anonymous postdoc says:

    Thorazine is blowing my mind right now. I'm going to try this on the next paper that might have a glam shot.

  • Josh says:

    Thorazine/Toto: One clarification - in general you have to affirm to a journal that the paper you are submitting to them is not under review at any other journal. So you would have to explicitly tell Journal 1 that you were withdrawing the submission before you submitted the revised version to Journal 2 (and therefore you'd lose your chance with Journal 1). At least that's my understanding of Chemistry journals and S/N.

  • thorazine says:

    Josh - You're correct. My assumption here that the revisions required were significant enough to require more than minor revision - that the paper be essentially rejected from the first journal, rather than essentially accepted.

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