What is Presubmission Review, and Why is it Important?

  • Article
  • Peer Review
  • Writing

AJE Presubmission Review editing service provides valuable feedback and recommendations from expert editors to help authors improve the clarity, structure, and overall quality of their submissions.

Updated on June 12, 2023

What is Presubmission Review, and Why is it Important?

Researchers may be shocked when their manuscript or grant proposal is not selected for publication or funding. In some of these submissions, the importance of the research was not clear. Some manuscripts were presented as disjointed lists of facts. In other papers, key details, such as ethics statements, were missing.

These authors may wish to go back in time. They would use the feedback in the rejection letter to revise the manuscript or application before initially submitting it.

AJE cannot help with time travel. However, through AJE Presubmission Review editing, authors can avoid making critical mistakes when submitting a manuscript or project proposal.

What is Presubmission Review?

With recommendations from expert AJE editors, Presubmission Review authors learn how reviewers may perceive their work. With the knowledge gained from this information, these scholars can revise their paper or proposal before submitting it for consideration.

An overall assessment

Illogical organization and unclear presentation are among the reasons manuscripts are rejected by journals (1). Failure to articulate the objectives of a study or show its significance are reasons cited for failed grant proposals (2) Clearly, authors need more than good ideas and solid data to convince reviewers that their study is worthy of publication or funding.

Authors who use Presubmission Review receive an overall assessment of their paper. Through direct comments added to the manuscript by experienced editors, authors recognize where further attention is needed to

  • maintain reader focus on the key aim of the study
  • improve readability by establishing a narrative that flows naturally
  • clarify sections by optimizing the logic of the organization 
  • assure readers that ethics and field standards are met
  • provide information at the proper level of detail

Specifically, through Presubmission Review, the structure, consistency, and level of detail are evaluated. Authors then receive recommendations to indicate where further revision is needed to engage reviewers, maintain their attention, and convince them of the importance of the study.

Authors need to guide readers through the whole manuscript, from the objective statement in the Abstract through the conclusion in the Discussion. Therefore, Presubmission Review editors guide authors by suggesting placement of information within and among sections in a logical format.

  • For example, to provide a clear rationale for the study, authors may be asked to move background information presented in the Discussion to the Introduction.

Authors receive recommendations to ensure that the background information, data presentation and conclusions are consistent with the main objectives.

  • For example, the author may be advised to restate the study rationale and aims so that the description is consistent in the Abstract, Introduction and Discussion

To improve readability, streamlining may be suggested.

  • For example, authors may be asked to break up long paragraphs or add transition statements that tie paragraphs together. 

Furthermore, authors learn where details need to be added, clarified or removed.

  • For example, they may be prompted to add definitions of control groups or provide explanations on experimental conditions, field sites, or sample sizes or locations.

They may asked to consider removing or revising statements not supported by data.

Similarly, authors are prompted to clarify the importance of the results.

  • For example, they may be asked to identify the practical aspects or societal impacts of the study.

Add-on Premium Editing Services

Presubmission Review is an add-on service for AJE Premium language editing customers. After a manuscript or grant proposal is edited for phrasing, clarity, and grammar by an AJE language editor, the paper undergoes Presubmission Review by a manuscript reviewer. The edited paper is returned with suggestions for improvements added directly in the margins.

Presubmission Review editors will not remove or add text. The author ultimately decides on the recommendations to implement before submission to a journal or funding organization.

Supports clinical sciences, life sciences, chemistry, and earth sciences

Similar to AJE language editors, Presubmission Review editors are matched to manuscripts based on area of study. AJE editors with advanced degrees review manuscripts in clinical sciences, life sciences, chemistry and earth sciences. Research articles, review articles and funding applications in these fields are eligible for Presubmission Review editing.

How is Presubmission Review different from English editing?

Presubmission Review editors address issues of logic, flow and scientific detail. Language editors correct grammar, spelling, and diction.

Why is Presubmission Review important for researchers?

Journals have high standards for structure and consistency

The competition to publish in peer-reviewed journals or receive support from funding organizations is fierce. For example, the funding rate for “competitive grant proposals” by the National Science Foundation in the past five years ranged between 23 and 25%, with only 70% of all funding awarded to grant applicants (3).

Acceptance rates of manuscripts by journals vary substantially (4, 5). Moreover, the number of journals increased annually at a rate of 4% from 2008 to 2018 to meet the increasing demand for publication venues (6).

These data suggest high volumes of submissions, which must be evaluated efficiently by reviewers. Moreover, editorial and governing boards hold high expectations for ethical practices.

Therefore, journals and funding agencies have both the luxury and obligation to maintain strict standards for structure and consistency. Authors who incorporate Presubmission Review suggestions submit cohesive presentations with proper disclaimers and ethics statements, increasing the likelihood of meeting these high standards.

Proofreading alone is not enough

A submitted manuscript must be free of spelling, typographical, punctuation and grammatical errors. Therefore, proofreading is an important step in preparation. However, meeting these minimum requirements does not ensure that the overall composition is clear or compelling.

Presubmission Review saves time

The time for a manuscript or grant review decision varies from weeks or months. Because many journals stipulate that an article is not under consideration elsewhere, a rejection can delay publication by months. Two or more rejections can mean that the data are not published for years.

Using Presubmission Review, authors may prevent delays caused by rejection. Moreover, their papers may not need major revisions that require extensive time-consuming rewriting, extensive responses to reviewers or re-evaluation.

Presubmission Review increases the chances of being published or funded

Through Presubmission Review, authors present a composition that is consistent with papers published or applications funded in their field. They can submit their work with increased confidence that it will receive a fair evaluation.

Final thoughts

Presubmission Review editors help authors achieve their funding and publishing goals. Moreover, these authors learn best practices that can be applied to future projects.


  1. Springer Nature. 2023. Common reasons for rejection. Accessed May 6, 2023, from https://www.springer.com/gp/authors-editors/authorandreviewertutorials/submitting-to-a-journal-and-peer-review/what-is-open-access/10285582
  2. National Institutes of Mental Health. (n.d.). Common mistakes in writing applications. Accessed June 9, 2023, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/funding/grant-writing-and-application-process/common-mistakes-in-writing-applications
  3. National Science Foundation. Funding and support descriptions. (n.d.). Accessed June 10, 2023, from https://www.nsf.gov/homepagefundingandsupport.jsp
  4. Herbert, R. (2023). Don’t worry about journal acceptance rates —and here’s why [sic]. Times Higher Education. Accessed June 10, 2023, from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/dont-worry-about-journal-acceptance-rates-and-heres-why
  5. Björk, B. (2019). Acceptance rates of scholarly peer-reviewed journals: A literature survey. Hanken School of Economics, Information Systems Science, Helsinki. Accessed June 10, 2023, from https://helda.helsinki.fi/dhanken/handle/10227/254784?show=full
  6. National Science Foundation/National Science Board. (n.d.). Publications output: U.S. trends and international comparisons. Accessed June 10, 2023, from https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsb20206/publication-output-by-region-country-or-economy 
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