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Peer Review: Is it difficult to get an article published in a peer-reviewed journal?

Journals can be highly selective in the articles that they accept for publication.

"Because of the stiff competition for space in the journal, Science now accepts less than 7% of the original research papers submitted. Most submissions are evaluated by the staff editors and our Board of Reviewing Editors for potential significance, quality, and interest. The Board, composed of more than 150 leading scientists worldwide, evaluates manuscripts . . . and provides prompt, expert assessment and input into editorial decisions and the selection of reviewers. About 80% of submitted manuscripts are rejected during this initial screening stage."

"The Science Contributors FAQ.", American Association for the Advancement of Science, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

The rejection rates of journals published by the American Psychological Association range from 27% to 93%.

“Summary Report of Journal Operations, 2019.” American Psychologist, vol. 75, no. 5, July 2020, pp. 723-724. APA PsycArticles, doi:10.1037/amp0000680.

"We are able to publish approximately 8-10 percent of the manuscripts we receive. These articles are selected through a rigorous review process. Every manuscript is evaluated by the AHR staff. Those with the greatest promise are sent anonymously to members of the AHR Board of Editors for further review. Upon recommendation by board members, essays are then sent to specialists to undergo double-blind peer review. All reviews are designed not only to evaluate each manuscript's suitability for publication in the AHR but also to help authors clarify their argument and explain their essays' broader implications. Approximately one-fourth of the manuscript submissions go through this entire evaluation process. Those that we select to publish then are subject to several rounds of further revision and reevaluation. As a consequence of these evaluation methods, every article published in the AHR has been reviewed by at least six scholars, and sometimes more."

"Article Submission." The American Historical Review, American Historical Association, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

"Two editors typically evaluate each submission, though a few manuscripts are rejected after having been read by only one editor, and some submissions are read by as many as four. . . . If a manuscript passes the initial editorial review, it is usually sent to an expert referee for further evaluation. . . . Some manuscripts are read by only one external referee, but we often use more than one for a given manuscript. . . . The Philosophical Review now receives more than 600 submissions per year, and publishes about 12."

Philosophical Review Editorial Policies for Authors, Duke University Press, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

"JAMA's acceptance rate is 5% of the more than 15,000 major manuscripts it receives annually and 2% of the more than 11,000 research papers received."

"For Authors." JAMA Network, American Medical Association, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

"During the last editorial term, 2018–19, the APSR granted about 6% of submissions the chance to revise and resubmit. With a similarly low final acceptance rate of about 4–5%, the process is naturally criticized by rejected authors who perceive editors as being overly critical. However, in the vast majority of cases, reviewers are at least equally critical toward the submissions. In the first round of review, after one-third of manuscripts have already been desk-rejected, only 4% of reviews recommend publication and only 15% suggest minor revisions. Put differently, about 82% of reports either have major concerns with the manuscript or recommend rejection."

“Notes from the Editors.” American Political Science Review, vol. 114, no. 1, Feb. 2020, p. v-vii. Academic Search Complete, doi:10.1017/S0003055419000728.