Explain it to me

As we finish up our 4th volume over at Nature Chemical Biology, we’ve been thinking about new ideas for the journal and new ways to follow up on some old ideas. We’ve also been getting some feedback recently that our decision letters (the ‘reject’, ‘accept’, or ‘somewhere in between’ emails) aren’t as clear as they could be. Our editorial this month tries to shed some light on this issue, but I also thought I would ask you guys a few questions:

What is the ideal way to find out your paper has been rejected, if there is such a thing? Does it help if we explain our thinking – what aspects of the paper we found stronger or weaker than others? Or would you rather just hear ‘no’ and move on?

If we ask you to call us to talk about the decision, would you? If we ask you to expand the paper prior to review, when would you be willing to do that vs. just go to another journal?

How much do you all know about the editorial process generally? Meaning, do we need to explain that we do a first round of editorial review, or is that obvious?

Do you have any questions about decisions that we could discuss here? We do want our decisions to be as transparent as possible, both so that potential authors and editors can exchange ideas and have a deep understanding of the various fields we cover, and because it should save a lot of time and energy if we can make our editorial processes and criteria plain. So, please ask, explain, instruct! We’re currently preparing the January issue, so we need some resolutions to work on.

Catherine (associate editor, Nature Chemical Biology)