Why do researchers not read the aims and scope of a journal?

I also published this post on LinkedIn.

Nature 1869 - public domain

I am the editor-in-chief of a journal (not the journal you see here, that is a (very nice) public domain image from 1869) and, as such I see a lot of submissions. One of the biggest frustrations I face is when researchers submit papers that are simply not appropriate for the journal.

Sometimes their article title just has one of the same words as the title of the journal and, sometimes, the article title, keywords, abstract, content, references etc. are so obviously not appropriate to the journal that you wonder why they chose to submit to this journal?

I would love to know why researchers do this?

The paper will inevitably be rejected and it takes my time, the administator staff time, the Associate Editor’s time (the policy of the journal is that any reject must have the view of at least two people) and the researchers time. I do not see any benefit to any any of those people, and it simply means that the paper will not be published for even longer as authors have to wait for a reject decision.

The only good thing that comes out of it is that the journal I represent has a lower acceptence rate than it should do, which some people see as a sign of quality.

2 thoughts on “Why do researchers not read the aims and scope of a journal?”

  1. Two possible reasons come to mind (among, no doubt, many).
    1. It requires effort (you know, like proofreading your opus before inflicting it on the reviewers).
    2. Academic units sometimes have a fixed, or at least preferred, set of A-rated journals. I think some authors grab the first halfway likely looking A journal regardless of fit. Could be that the best fit is not recognized as an A by the Powers That Be. For instance, I was in a B-school. They would accept Management Science or OR as a suitable journal, but not Math of OR, so if I’d cranked out a convergence proof for some algorithm, I would have been trying to shoe-horn it into a journal that might not be the ideal fit.

  2. Very true Paul and although they might be drawing “slightly dead” at least there is a chance but some of the ones I see are just so different to the journal that it is never going to succeed.

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