Q: What might be the outcome for my manuscript if I submitted it without language editing?

Detailed Question -

I submitted a manuscript that has not been edited for language because I was about to miss the deadline for a special issue of the journal. What will the editor do in such a case? If the content is sufficient [good], will the manuscript be peer-reviewed? Also, should I email the editor of the issue and ask for instruction[s]?

1 Answer to this question

You have two broad queries. One, of course, is around whether your manuscript will proceed to peer review although you haven’t done a language edit on it. The second, around writing to the editor, is not entirely clear. This is mainly regarding the last word (‘instruction[s]’). Perhaps, you rather meant ‘extension’?

Anyway, let’s get to your queries.

What will the editor decide?

As you would well know, it’s best to submit a manuscript that’s ready in every way. That not just impresses editors, but improves the chances of being sent for peer review (in other words, avoids being desk-rejected). Now, without knowing the extent to which the manuscript needed to be language-edited (little versus a lot), it’s difficult to say. Also, the outcome may depend on the journal’s standards and ethos, as also that of the particular editor. If it’s a top-tier journal, and the potential changes are many, it may end up being desk-rejected, or to be somewhat positive, come back to you with a request to be edited. So too if the editor has exacting standards. As you can well understand, it’s best not to take chances, plan your submission well (especially from a timeline perspective), and thus give your manuscript the best shot at acceptance.

Should you write to the editor?

For the second query, if you indeed meant ‘extension,’ you may proceed based on your intention: whether you wish to be diligent or judicious. Diligence would mean, yes, you write to them stating that it could do with language improvement and that you would like it if you could get some additional time. Judicious would mean waiting and watching, because writing to them now may end up stalling the progress of your manuscript or even lead to an outright rejection.

If writing to them is the way you wish to proceed, you will need to craft a balanced mail. For that, you may turn to the many templates (using a mix of many) provided in this handbook: A practical handbook of templates for communicating with the journal [The handbook is available from R Upskill, a sister brand providing learning programs for various aspects of a researcher’s work, including manuscript writing, help with the peer review process, and working toward your publication goals. Do check it out, as it’s quite comprehensive, and even better, free for a limited period.]

In the worst case that the decision ends up being a desk rejection, as you may know, you may submit the manuscript elsewhere, this time of course, having it edited before you submit. For which, of course, there’s the wide range of services we offer: Editage Editing Services

Hope that helps. All the best for whatever’s next for your manuscript!