Editorial decisions traditionally come in three forms: reject, revise
and resubmit, and accept. Over the years, an additional category
appears to have become more common: “reject and resubmit.” In a typical
reject-and-resubmit, the editor tells the authors that even though the
current submission is formally rejected, the authors have the option of
submitting an “essentially new” paper that may include parts of the
rejected submission. Formally, the resubmission is treated as a “new
submission.” What often happens in practice is that the authors submit a
heavily revised version of the earlier submission along with replies to
referees and the editor, just as they would when resubmitting a paper
that received a revise and resubmit.
In 2016, we discontinued the use of “reject-and-resubmit” at the
Journal of Finance. After giving the issue some thought, we came to the
conclusion that “rejects-and-resubmits” are detrimental to a transparent
and predictable editorial process:
1. Since “reject-and-resubmit” does not exist as a formal decision
category (formally, it’s a reject after all), it can be unclear to
authors, especially inexperienced members of our profession, how to
proceed: What sort of paper are they expected to resubmit? Should they
prepare a response to referees?
2. “Reject-and-resubmits” generate unnecessary uncertainty about the
process ahead: Will the resubmission go to the same referees or even the
same editor? What happens when the editorial team changes?
3. Looking at a journal’s reported statistics, how many of the papers
that a journal reports as rejected are actually “reject and resubmits”?
How many of the papers that are reported as accepted after two
revisions are actually ones that had received a “reject and resubmit” in
“round zero” and are therefore, effectively, papers that required three
rounds of revisions? What percentage of “new” first-round submissions
are actually double-counted resubmissions of “reject and resubmits”?
Since standard editorial software does not keep track of the (formally
non-existing) “reject-and-resubmit” decisions, it can be difficult even
for editors to figure out precise answers to these questions.
4. Having the option of issuing a “reject-and-resubmit” can tempt an
editor faced with a tough case to “kick the can down the road,” delaying
To be clear, there is an important role for speculative revise and
resubmits for papers that have a promising core but substantial
challenges to overcome in order to clear the bar for publication. We
regularly issue such speculative revise and resubmit decisions. Since
these are treated formally as revise-and-resubmits, the process is
clear: Typically, the resubmission will go back to the same referees and
the same editor will handle the resubmission.