7 reasons for the negative assessment of reviewers

Peer review is always good for the author, even despite the possible negative decision of the reviewer. Why is it good if the decision is negative? Because it is a useful experience for the author, on which he can improve himself.

Despite the variety of comments that authors encounter when publishing scientific articles, it is possible to generalize typical mistakes. They are the ones that most often lead to negative reviews and refusals to publish:

  1. Unconvincing substantiation of the relevance of the scientific problems on which the research was carried out. When the authors describe the relevance in the introduction, sometimes they make the wrong emphasis, in particular, they do not give arguments about why research on this topic should be carried out today and how the results obtained can be used in practice. But they are fond of analyzing the literature in the introduction or reference information. This can sometimes raise questions from reviewers “why carry out new research, if the main results on this topic have long been known and studied“ far and wide ”. Therefore, especially for such "well-known" topics, it is very important to give "reinforced concrete" arguments.
  2. Relevance and objectivity of the literature sources used. The relevance of the work is emphasized by references to modern sources – the emphasis on the word "modern". Each source used must correspond to the topic of your work – a list just for the sake of a list is unacceptable, because by doing this you undermine the reviewer's trust not only in the relevance of the study, but also in the work as a whole. Analyzing each source, it is important to critically analyze it, that is, to identify the unresolved parts of the problem. Such parts form the evidence base about the appropriateness of the author's research.

The following nuance is also important: when authors use many references to the same author in the literature, this arouses the reviewer's suspicion of a possible self-citation and this article is not part of the "salami slicing" (a term denoting breaking up the research into small parts). Most scientometric publications limit the self-citation rate to 20% (for example).

  1. Vaguely expressed aim of research. Ask one of your colleagues to look at your article – will he/she be able to determine the purpose of your research in 1 minute? If not, then you should definitely work on it. Be very specific about the aim of your article and subordinate everything else to it. Avoid any deviations – unnecessary data, literature, figures. Very often we are faced with a situation where scientists add all the information they have to an article, regardless of its importance. Define your research boundaries and cut off anything that goes beyond them. Work depth of exploration, not width. Don't make a lecture out of an article.
  2. Methodology and / or data analysis is unsatisfactory. This can happen if your study lacks clear control groups or other metrics to compare. Or the research does not correspond to recognized procedures or methodology that can be repeated, and the equipment used for conducting experiments does not allow, according to its capabilities, to obtain the results presented in the article. The same may apply to the conditions of the experiments and the correctness of the procedure for processing experimental data and the choice of appropriate methods.
  3. Lack of high-quality interpretation of the results. Avoid value judgments of your own in your article, especially in relation to your results: the words "for the first time", "unique", "best", "got further development", etc. Instead, rely solely on the revealed facts (results obtained) and refer in the process discussion of the results in figures, tables, formulas reflecting these results. Compare the results obtained with those already known from other studies. Show how the results obtained in your research cover the problematic part that you discovered in the process of analyzing modern scientific periodicals.
  4. Excessive interpretation of results. Do not try to show better results than you have. Careful peer review will still reveal inconsistencies. Moreover, the highest quality articles already contain critical remarks. These are called "research constraints". List everything that you would like to do in your research, but were not able to. Explain why you faced this challenge and how you overcame it. Try to anticipate comments from reviewers.

An important aspect in order to avoid publication rejection is the opinion of the reviewer. For example, you can post your research work on Academia.edu and get feedback from “mass peer review”.

Watch the video “How to register at Academia.edu and add your research

  1. Inconsistency of conclusions with the set objectives of research. Remember that conclusions are a concise and specific coverage of the results obtained, which allows to determine the essence and significance of the scientific originality of your research. Lack of specificity or inconsistency with their research objectives may indicate that the aim of research has not been achieved, that is, the problem that was discovered has not been solved.

Do not be afraid of objective, constructive and justified criticism. Take this as a chance to improve the article, save your own time and money.


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