Does a status change from "assigning editors" to "evaluating recommendation" indicate desk rejection?
The status of my manuscript changed from “assigning editors” to “evaluating recommendation” overnight. I am slightly puzzled at this sudden change. Should I understand that the paper has been desk rejected by the assigning editor without being sent to reviewers and that’s why the recommendation was received so quickly?
The status "evaluating recommendation" indicates that the paper is with the Associate Editor (AE) who will now evaluate it and decide whether the paper should be accepted, rejected, or revised. The stage is called “evaluating recommendation” because the AE can only give his recommendation to the Editor-in-chief (EiC) in this matter. The final decision is taken by the EiC.
Since the status changed from "assigning editors" directly to "evaluating recommendation," it is possible that the editor has decided not to send your paper for peer review, in which case, it is likely to be a desk rejection.
However, different journals often use the same status description to indicate different things. Therefore, one cannot be absolutely certain that the paper is going to be desk rejected. One other possibility is that this journal uses the status "evaluating recommendation" to refer to the initial editorial screening. If this is the case, the status will change to "under review." The next status update will make this clear.