Q: Why would a journal not give the author the reviews for a rejected paper?

Detailed Question -

My paper was sent for review six weeks ago, after being acknowledged as submitted four weeks after submission. However, no reviews were attached. This seems very strange. What are the possible courses of action the author can take?

1 Answer to this question

Firstly, sorry to know your paper was rejected. A rejection is disappointing to begin with, and can get annoying when, as you say, the journal doesn’t provide the reason(s) for the rejection. Anyway, you actually have two questions. So, let’s take them in sequence.

Why would the journal not provide you the reviews/reasons for the rejection?

Although ideally they should and most journals do so (also because you can work on this feedback and submit an improved paper elsewhere), some do not do so for a variety of reasons: being busy (the editor), wanting to avoid the back-and-forth discussions that may ensue, publisher policy, and so on. You may find out more through this recent similar query by another researcher: Why do some editors reject papers without stating the reasons for the rejection?

What possible action(s) can you take?

As mentioned in the linked response above, there is little the author can do. You could write to them a couple of times, but they are unlikely to respond, also because they would wish to put their energies on new and in-consideration manuscripts rather than on those out of contention. We understand you may wish to do this not to appeal against the rejection, but to know what wasn’t working and how you can work that into the updated paper, but this usually proves a dead end. If wishing to improve your paper is the main reason you would like to have the reviews, you could alternatively consider showing your manuscript to a peer or a senior (if you haven’t do so already). And of course, if you’d like external/professional help, you may consider a service such as ours. (If you’d like to pursue this path, you may find out more about our editing/review services here.)

Having said that, it seems like you’ve handled the rejection quite well – you sound quite practical about it. If so, that’s great to know. Now, in case you’re planning to revise and submit elsewhere, you may wish to go through the following resources to avoid rejection a second time.

Hope that helps. All the best for your next actions!