Top Reasons for Non-Acceptance of Scientific Articles

Reasons why a scientific article may be rejected.

Set I: Reasons reviewers reject and accept manuscripts

  1. Inappropriate or incomplete statistics
  2. Over-interpretation of results
  3. Inappropriate or sub-optimal instrumentation
  4. Sample too small or biased
  5. Text difficult to follow
  6. Insufficient problem statement
  7. Inaccurate or inconsistent data reported
  8. Incomplete, inaccurate, or outdated review of the literature
  9. Insufficient data presented
  10. Defective tables or figures

Adapted from: Bordage, G. (2001). Reasons reviewers reject and accept manuscripts: the strengths and weakness in medical education reports. Academic Medicine, vol. 76(9): 889-896

Set II: Publishing your medical research paper

1. Importance of the topic

  • Rehash of established facts
  • Insignificant research question
  • Irrelevant or unimportant topic
  • Low reader interest
  • Little clinical relevance
  • Not generalizable

2. Study Design

  • Poor experimental design
  • Vague/inadequate method description
  • Methods lack sufficient rigor
  • Failure to account for confounders
  • No control or improper control
  • No hypothesis
  • Biased protocol
  • Small sample size
  • Inappropriate statistical methods, or statistics not applied properly

3. Overall Presentation of Study and Findings

  • Poor organization
  • Too long or verbose
  • Failure to communicate clearly
  • Poor grammar, syntax or spelling
  • Excessively self-promotional
  • Poorly written abstract

4. Interpretation of the Findings

  • Erroneous or unsupported conclusions
  • Conclusions disproportionate to results
  • Study design does not support inferences made
  • Inadequate link of findings to practice
  • Uncritical acceptance of statistical results
  • Failure to consider alternative explanations
  • Unexplained inconsistencies
  • Inflation of the importance of the findings
  • Interpretation not concordant with the data
  • Inadequate discussion

Adapted from Byrne, DW. (1998). Publishing your medical research paper. What they don’t teach you in medical school. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Magreth Library General Collection   R119 .B97 1997  

Set III: The top 10 reasons why manuscripts are not accepted for publication

  1. Picking the wrong journal
  2. Submitting a manuscript in a format that does not match what the journal published
  3. Not following the manuscript preparation instructions
  4. Poor writing
  5. Getting carried away in the discussion
  6. Sub-optimal reporting of the methods
  7. Inadequate description of the methods
  8. Poor study design
  9. Failure to revise and resubmit following peer review
  10. Failure to write and submit a full manuscript after presenting the abstract

From Pierson, D. J. (2004). The top 10 reasons why manuscripts are not accepted for publication. Respiratory Care, 49(10): 1246-1252.

Set IV: Manuscript Rejection: Causes and Remedies



Research Manuscript: Reasons for denial

  • Lack of novelty
  • Improper rationale
  • Unimportant or irrelevant subject matter
  • Flaws in methodology
  • Lack of interpretation
  • Inappropriate or incomplete statistics
  • Reviewers' field of knowledge and discretion
  • Inappropriateness for the journal
  • Lack of in vivo studies
  • Inappropriate packaging of the manuscript
  • Journals’ popularity and the priority given to the manuscript by the editor

Review Manuscript: Reasons for denial

  • Lack of critical reviews, propaganda, and promotion of the techniques discussed
  • Inadequate and obsolete literature survey
  • Reviewer should be an expert on the subject
  • Editor-in-chief looking for something specific at a particular time

Adapted from: Ali J. (2010). Manuscript rejection: causes and remediesJournal of young pharmacists : JYP2(1), 3–6.

Additional References

Some selected additional references

Lusher, A. (2015). Peer Review Process, Editorial Decisions, and Manuscript Resubmission: A Reference for Novice Researchers. Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, 115(9), 566-569.

Behzadi, P., Gajdács, M. Writing a strong scientific paper in medicine and the biomedical sciences: a checklist and recommendations for early career researchers. BIOLOGIA FUTURA 72, 395–407 (2021).

Iskander, J. K., Wolicki, S. B., Leeb, R. T., & Siegel, P. Z. (2018). Successful Scientific Writing and Publishing: A Step-by-Step ApproachPreventing chronic disease15, E79. 

Forero, D. A., Lopez-Leon, S., & Perry, G. (2020). A brief guide to the science and art of writing manuscripts in biomedicineJournal of translational medicine18(1), 425.

Gemayel R. (2016). How to write a scientific paper. The FEBS journal283(21), 3882–3885.


Last Updated: Oct 11, 2022 11:49 AM