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02/21/2014

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David Morrow

Two thoughts:

(1) I've received desk rejections accompanied by a note saying that the journal had recently or would soon publish one or more papers on the same topic, and so they didn't want to devote more space to the topic just then. So at least some desk rejections are for reasons other than the ones you listed above.

(2) While the power to issue desk rejections does give editors some more power than they would otherwise have, I think that's a price worth paying for quicker reviews. And I don't see a viable alternative, since (as I understand it) simply *finding* reviewers for a particular paper can take weeks. So, if a journal adopted your procedure for allowing "reviewer desk rejections," that might mean waiting several extra weeks for a desk rejection. It might also make it even harder to get people to accept refereeing requests, since some people may feel that they've "taken their turn" with a paper that they ended up desk rejecting.

Marcus Arvan

Hi David,

Thanks for your comment. On (1), I agree that is a reason that is occasionally given for desk rejections, and I think it is a legitimate one.

As for (2), I think there is a viable alternative. Most journals contact authors by email, asking them to agree/decline to review the paper. Sometimes, these emails enable the reviewer to look at the paper, so that the reviewer can judge whether they have suitable expertise and background for reviewing it. Why not, at this stage, permit the contacted reviewer to select a third option--viz., that they have looked at the paper and judge it to be worthy of a desk rejection (along with, perhaps, a brief explanation of why), and where a desk rejection requires both reviewers initially contacted to recommend it. I don't think this would markedly slow down the process, and it would have the benefit of taking desk rejections out of the hands of one individual.

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