The publication process can be fickle, arduous, and time consuming. Journals have their own objectives, administration, and expectations on the quality of science they aim to publish. Therefore, publication standards and expectation vary among journals. This means the competition for publication can be fierce and it is not uncommon to expect a low acceptance rates for submitted papers. Top tier journals, such as Nature and Science claim to have a 3% acceptance rate. Therefore, submitting to a good quality journal can result in rejections from multiple journals before final acceptance. The key to tackling this problem is building resilience to rejection and accepting rejection as common practice. Knowing that initial paper acceptance is a rare event and all academics experience rejection on all submitted papers will help you create effective strategies to more publish more efficiently, including making effective use of time, knowing the journals within your field that are best suited to your work, and using available publishing resources.
Practical example for Life Sciences
Within the life sciences, the acceptance rate can be, on average, 25% per paper submission. That is, for every four fresh submissions to a different journal, on average only one will end up finally being published, even after possible multiple rounds of revision. This is an indicator of the journal initially considering your paper, which excludes the time spent responding to reviewer comments. Therefore, submitting your paper will require multiple attempts to different journals before one journal makes a decision to accept your paper.
Practical example for Social Sciences
The frequency of rejection in the social sciences will depend primarily on three things: the level of the journal the manuscript has been submitted to, the methodological soundness of the research, and the novelty of the research findings. In all cases, methodological soundness is a critical factor for acceptance and thus researchers should focus on establishing it in their work. Novelty of research findings is often the second most important factor in insuring publication, however, it still cannot ensure that your research will be accepted.