J Philanthropy Mar


EiC Rita Kottasz describes her philosophy pertaining to journal acceptance rates

POSTING TYPE: Journal News

Author: Rita Kottasz

Does the high rejection rate of an academic journal signal quality?  


Acceptance rate (or rejection rate) is the ratio of the number of articles submitted to the number of articles published. The best way to measure quality is by the calibre of articles appearing in a journal, not its acceptance rates. Some years a journal may be inundated with excellent submissions; in other years it might be the opposite (resulting in varying acceptance rates year-on-year).

Worryingly, in some U.S.A. based universities and elsewhere, academics who publish in journals with acceptance rates higher than 20% are penalised, as they cannot utilise and count such manuscripts towards tenure and/or promotion. It is possible for the very same journal to validate an academic’s career in one year, but not the next!

How can a journal that receives a few hundred submissions per year be compared with a journal that receives thousands/annum, where understandably the capacity for peer-review may be restricted and a decision to desk reject a high number of submissions, inevitable?  Some journals, especially smaller ones, can take a more supportive approach to their editorial work, and develop manuscripts that have potential, and hence end up with higher acceptance rates. In this instance, shouldn’t higher acceptance rates be celebrated? Furthermore, is it possible that to fit in with a culture of quality perception, some editors will keep acceptance rates artificially low? Is this beneficial (or fair) to authors?

What equates to quality work is in many respects subjective of course and there are many reasons to desk reject. But measurement of quality should be based on a combination of the following: strength of argument, clarity, grace of prose, thoroughness of research, impact, and originality of claims. Denying an author the career benefits that come from having a published article simply because the Journal has a reasonably high acceptance rate negates these measures of quality and diminishes the hard work of authors and editors in developing good papers for publication.

Rita Kottasz

Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing (Wiley)