Do Journal Acceptance Rates Matter?

Impact factor plays a deciding role in helping researchers select the right journal for publication. Journal editors and editorial boards will also track an internal measure of the acceptance or rejection rates of the papers submitted over one year. The precise interpretation of the journal acceptance rate can vary from one journal to the next. For example, some may use the total number of manuscripts received as the base for the percentage calculation, whereas others will only count the reviewed manuscripts as the base number.

How Does the Acceptance Rate Help the Journal?

A journal’s acceptance rate is not usually set in stone. It will vary from month to month as the editor monitors the number of papers in the system. If the journal fills the next edition early, the acceptance rate may decline as a result. Alternatively, if the acceptance rate suddenly spikes, it might raise concerns about the peer review process and prompt further investigation.

As an internal benchmark, most journals will not publish their acceptance rates on their website. From their perspective, a consistently low acceptance rate may prove to be a deterrent to future submissions.

So Do Journal Acceptance Rates Matter?

It would seem logical that a prestigious journal with a high impact factor would have a correspondingly low acceptance rate. All researchers want their articles published in the most prestigious journal in their field, and will often submit their paper automatically, fully anticipating rejection and the need for re-formatting for submission to an alternate journal.

However, the relationship of high impact factor to low acceptance rate is not true in every instance. As we have already discussed, the acceptance rate can vary from edition to edition, and if your research study is especially topical, that can improve your chances considerably if the work is of an acceptable quality.

In addition, the acceptance rate for a journal that receives one thousand submissions per month doesn’t convey the same scenario as a journal that receives fifty submissions per month. If you are determined that a particular journal should get the chance to publish your study, you can always contact the editor directly.

And How Does Open Access Disrupt the Dynamics?

Given the lack of accurate information about journal acceptance rates, evaluating the different rates of different journals (assuming you can find them) may not be the best approach. You are also assuming that you have the final say as to where the paper will get published!

In this era of open access publishing, almost anything is published for a fee. Naturally, the reputations of such open access journals will go down as low. So much so that many institutions are not even allowing papers from their research personnel to be published in such journals. This will continue to be a concern as long as the number of active researchers continues to exceed the number of eligible journals. This is the reality.

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