At Politics roughly half of the manuscripts submitted to us are rejected without review. All reject without review decisions are jointly made by both editors-in-chief. The principle reason for an initial reject decision is that we do not feel it will successfully make its way through the peer review process. As we rely on reviewers giving their time voluntarily, we try to only send out manuscripts that we are genuinely considering for publication. We provide feedback with every decision explaining our reasoning for rejection. However, there are some common reasons for rejecting without review:
- A lack of an original and generalisable argument/insight: Politics publishes original research for an audience that spans the whole of politics and international relations. As such we expect our articles to effectively communicate the original insight they are offering in a manner that will be relevant to a reasonable section of that audience. Obviously, articles cannot speak to the whole of the discipline, but we hope that our articles make it clear how their insights are relevant to as wide a subset of the discipline as possible. We regularly reject without review manuscripts that do not clearly articulate their original argument/insight and its relevance for a particular audience.
- A lack of an original, well communicated research question that is situated in relation to an extant academic debate: original arguments have an origin and a context – usually a debate that sets their terms of reference and which they then either critique or advance. We expect our articles to show how they arise from questions posed in extant debates and how they develop those questions/debates further. We reject articles that do not adequately situate their argument/research in relation to extant debates (even if to reject the terms of those debates).
- A lack of reference to the relevant literature: it is very important for articles to acknowledge the context out of which they emerge and to which they speak. This is not a simple acknowledging of debts (though this is important) but also a key way in which an article can frame its discussions, conceptual coordinates and insights.
There are other reasons for a reject without review decision – effective communication in English being one – but these 3 are the most common that it is worth avoiding in drafting submissions.