How to Write an Effective Appeal Letter to a Journal Editor
Rejection is a common part of the publication journey, but sometimes it's worth appealing the decision. This article outlines situations where an appeal letter may be necessary, such as challenging a rejection, contesting reviewer comments, requesting a reevaluation, or addressing ethical/procedural issues.
Updated on September 15, 2023
Rejection from your target journal is an unfortunate part of the publication journey. Approximately 20% of papers are rejected without review. Approximately 40% of papers are rejected after peer review (for more information on time spent in the peer review process, click here).
However, sometimes you may not agree with the rejection. In these cases, you can appeal the decision.
There are several reasons why you might write an appeal letter to a journal editor. Here are a few common situations where an appeal letter could be necessary and how to write an effective appeal letter to a journal editor.
Reasons to appeal journal’s decision
1) Challenging a rejection: If your manuscript has been rejected by the journal, but you strongly believe that the decision was unfair or based on a misunderstanding, you may choose to write an appeal letter. The letter allows you to present your case, address any concerns raised by the reviewers, and request reconsideration of your manuscript.
2) Contesting reviewer comments: Sometimes, you may receive reviewer comments that you believe are unjustified, biased, or inaccurate. In such cases, you can write an appeal letter to the editor, providing a detailed explanation of why you disagree with specific comments or interpretations. This allows you to advocate for your work and provide additional evidence or arguments to support your position.
3) Requesting a reevaluation: If you have made significant revisions to your manuscript in response to reviewer comments, but the journal still decides to reject your paper, you may write an appeal letter requesting a reevaluation.
In this letter, explain the changes you have made and how you believe they address the concerns raised. Highlight any new data or analyses that strengthen your work.
4) Addressing ethical or procedural issues: If you suspect ethical misconduct or procedural errors during the review process, write an appeal letter to bring these concerns to the attention of the editor. This is particularly relevant if you believe that the review process was compromised, unfair, or violated the journal's guidelines or ethical standards.
Use caution when writing your letter
Note: Appealing a rejection will not guarantee acceptance and may even hurt your relationship with the journal editor. It may also prohibit you from submitting your research to another journal for publication during the appeal process. Therefore, the pros and cons of appealing a decision should be considered carefully.
Following appeal policies
Many journals or publishers have specific appeal policies. Following these policies will help the appeal process run smoothly and as quickly as possible. No journal editor likes to receive an appeal letter out of the blue. Therefore, journal editors may look more favorably on authors who follow the appropriate policies and procedures. Additionally, following such procedures may speed up the appeal process.
For additional information about the appeal policies of some larger publishers, click the links below:
- When to Dispute a Decision - Springer
- How to Appeal a Journal Decision - Elsevier
- How to Write an Appeal Letter - Springer
- Peer Review Appeals and Complaints from Authors - Taylor & Francis
Writing an appeal letter
Writing an appeal letter can be a crucial step in addressing concerns or opposing a decision made about your submitted manuscript.
Remain composed and professional throughout the process. After rejection, emotions can influence your thoughts. Therefore, it is best to wait a few days until you can think about the decision objectively before replying. If you decide you still want to reply, here's a general guide on how to write an effective appeal letter:
Address the editor
Begin your letter by addressing the editor respectfully. Use their full name, professional title, and the name of the journal. If you are unsure about the editor's name, check the journal's website or the decision letter you received. Most journals will list their editorial board on their website.
For example, at the top of your letter, include the following:
Dr./Professor Editor Name
Journal of Science
Dear Dr./Professor Editor Name:
Clearly State the Purpose
In the opening paragraph, clearly state the purpose of your letter. Mention that you are writing to appeal the decision regarding your manuscript and provide the manuscript title and manuscript ID (if applicable) for easy reference.
Dear Dr. Editor Name,
I am writing to appeal the decision regarding our manuscript, titled [Insert title here], submission number XXX, by [Insert author’s names here].
Express your gratitude for the editor's time and effort in reviewing your manuscript. Emphasize your appreciation for their valuable feedback and their consideration of your work.
My coauthors and I express our sincere gratitude for the time you have spent reviewing and considering our manuscript for publication.
Highlight Specific Concerns
In the subsequent paragraphs, address the specific concerns raised by the editor or reviewers. Methodically respond to each point by providing a detailed explanation or presenting additional evidence, data, or references that support your case. IRemain polite, respectful, and professional throughout. It may be helpful to number your points so the editor can focus on each point individually.
If you believe there were any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of your work, clarify them in a concise and objective manner. Use this opportunity to provide additional context or elaborate on aspects that may have been overlooked during the initial review.
Acknowledge any weaknesses or limitations of your manuscript that were identified by the reviewers. Explain how you have addressed or modified these aspects in your revised submission or offer a plan to address them in future work. This demonstrates your willingness to improve the manuscript.
If you are unable to address the limitations due to time, budget, resources, etc., be sure to acknowledge the limitations in the manuscript. For guidance on writing a limitations section or statement, check out this article.
Provide Additional Evidence
If you have obtained new data, conducted further analyses, or made substantial revisions to your manuscript since the initial submission, present this information to strengthen your case. Clearly outline how these additions or modifications enhance the quality or significance of your work.
Summarize the Key Points
In the concluding paragraph, summarize the key points of your appeal, reiterating the reasons why you believe your manuscript deserves reconsideration. Remain polite and reiterate your appreciation for the editor's time and consideration.
Attach Supporting Documents
If necessary, attach any supporting documents, such as:
- Revised manuscript sections
- Additional data
- References that further support your appeal
Mention these attachments in your letter.
Proofread and Submit
Before sending your appeal letter, thoroughly proofread it for clarity, grammar, and spelling errors. Ensure your letter adheres to any specific guidelines or formatting requirements set by the journal.
Finally, submit your appeal letter through the designated channel or email address provided by the journal.
The success of your appeal depends on the strength of your arguments and the quality of your revisions. Stay professional, concise, and respectful throughout the letter; I\it is important to maintain a constructive and collaborative tone with the editor.
Remember, writing an appeal letter should be approached with professionalism, courtesy, and a focus on constructive communication. Carefully evaluate your reasons for appealing and ensure you have a strong case supported by evidence or sound reasoning.