My paper is rejected. Can I appeal the editor’s decision?

Today, I will talk about what to do when a paper is rejected from a journal, and more specifically if it is possible to appeal the editor’s decision, and then what are the chance of success?

Generally, if a researcher sends papers to journals, it will sooner or later happen that some papers will be rejected. And sometimes it seems that the decision was unfair for various reasons. For instance, it may seem that reviewers have not understood the content of the paper or have been overly critical. Thus, several researchers will feel angry, disappointed, frustrated and think that the process was unfair. Sometimes it may be justified, but sometimes not.

Thus, what should a researcher do? A possibility is to try to argue with the editor or appeal the decision. The other possibility is to move on, fix the problems with the paper and submit it to another journal.

In my experience, trying to appeal the editor decision has a very low chance of success unless there was clearly some serious wrongdoing such as a reviewer submitting the review for the wrong paper. But in general, still different journals have different policies and procedures for handling appeals. I will now talk about this in more details.

When to appeal a journal rejection?

First of all, it is important to carefully read the rejection letter and the reviewers’ comments. If the rejection is based on factual errors, misunderstandings, or misinterpretations of your work, you may have grounds for an appeal. However, if the rejection is based on subjective opinions, preferences, or criticisms that are not constructive or specific, you may have little chance of success.

You should also consider the type and severity of the rejection. Some journals may reject your manuscript outright, without offering any possibility of resubmission or revision. But others may reject your manuscript but allow you to make substantial changes and improvements and then to resubmit. In these cases, an appeal may not be appropriate or necessary.

How to appeal a journal rejection?

As I said previously, I personally think that appeals have a low chance of success unless there is some serious issue with the reviewing process. But if you decide to appeal a journal rejection, you should follow these steps:

  • Determine the appeal protocol (if there is one). Some journals provide an appeal process on their website. If no process is given (more likely), find the email of the editor-in-chief on the journal website and explain your situation. Generally, the editor is very busy so try to explain everything in a single e-mail.
  • Always be respectful towards the editor, reviewers and other persons involved. Courtesy, humility and calm go a long way in winning a re-review. Do not be rude, aggressive, defensive, or emotional in your appeal letter. Acknowledge the editor’s and reviewers’ efforts and expertise, and thank them for their feedback.
  • Construct your argument clearly around why you believe the appeal is justified. Provide evidence and references to support your claims. Address each point of criticism or concern raised by the reviewers, and explain why you disagree or how you have resolved it. Be concise and specific, and avoid repeating yourself or making irrelevant comments.

What to expect from an appeal?

Keep in mind that appeals are rarely successful. Your appeal must be a simple and concise rational argument based on facts over emotions.

If your appeal is accepted, you may receive a positive response from the editor-in-chief or a senior editor who will agree to reconsider your manuscript or send it to new reviewers. However, this does not guarantee acceptance; your manuscript will still undergo another round of peer review and editorial evaluation.

If your appeal is rejected, you may receive a negative response from the editor-in-chief or a senior editor who will uphold the original decision and explain why your appeal was not convincing or valid. In this case, you should respect their final verdict and move on.

When to submit your manuscript to another journal

If your appeal is unsuccessful or not possible at all, you should look for another journal that is suitable for your manuscript. Before submitting, check the scope, aims, and requirements of the new journal. Make sure that your manuscript matches the journal’s focus and expectations, and that you follow the journal’s guidelines for authors. Also try to fix the problems in your papers that reviewers have mentioned in their reviews.


Receiving a rejection from a journal can be discouraging and seem unfair. Generally, you can either appeal the decision or submit your manuscript to another journal. In either case, you should be respectful in your communication with the journal. Remember that rejection is part of the process, and that it can help you improve your manuscript and increase your chances of success in the future.

Philippe Fournier-Viger is a professor, data mining researcher and the founder of the SPMF data mining software, which includes more than 150 algorithms for pattern mining.

This entry was posted in Academia and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *