Manuscript rejection in ophthalmology and visual science journals: identifying and avoiding the common pitfalls

Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2009 Dec;37(9):864-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9071.2009.02190.x.


Purpose: The majority of ophthalmology and visual science journals reject more original manuscripts than they accept. Submissions to Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology were analysed over a 12-month period with the aim of identifying common reasons for editorial rejection of manuscripts.

Methods: A content analysis was carried out of reviewer and section editor comments of all rejected manuscripts (original papers) submitted to Clinical 0mp; Experimental Ophthalmology between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2008. Comments were categorized by reasons for rejection.

Results: A total of 662 manuscripts were submitted to Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology via ScholarOne Manuscripts from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008 with a final decision date of up to 1 April 2009. The overall rejection rate for these manuscripts was 73.6%. The most common reason for rejection of manuscripts was 'does not add to current literature', followed by 'poor methodology', 'problematic control groups', 'poor English and grammar/poorly organized', 'needs further work/clarification' and 'simultaneous submission to another journal/plagiarized'; the remainder had either no readily categorized reason stated or were grouped into an 'other' category.

Discussion: Understanding why original research work is rejected can be invaluable to an author's publishing career. The categories that emerged from this content analysis are reflected in other literature on the topic, therefore the flaws in manuscripts rejected by Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology appear to be both common and avoidable. Armed with this knowledge an author may strive towards a more 'rejection-proof' manuscript when submitting to ophthalmology and visual science journals.

MeSH terms

  • Journal Impact Factor
  • Manuscripts as Topic*
  • Ophthalmology*
  • Peer Review, Research*
  • Periodicals as Topic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Plagiarism
  • Quality Control
  • Research Design
  • Vision, Ocular