Journal of Marketing Management (JMM) is an international, peer-reviewed journal which publishes high quality, original research contributions to scientific knowledge. All manuscript submissions are subject to initial appraisal by the Editor, and, if found suitable for further consideration, to peer review by independent, anonymous expert referees. All peer review is double blind and submission is online via ScholarOne Manuscripts.

The following is recommended reading for authors intending to submit to JMM, and those who may have received a desk reject decision from the journal. (Please note that before a paper is seen by the Editor it is screened by the Editorial Office to ensure that authors have followed the journal’s submission guidelines. Approximately 50% of articles are returned to authors for amendments before being sent through to the Editor. Preparing your submission will be the subject of a separate blog).

JMM receives a high number of submissions, and during this process a great proportion of standard papers, in the region of 65%, are desk rejected, with only 8% eventually being accepted. Due to the high number of papers going through the review system, the Editor cannot give detailed feedback on every single paper, so this blog covers some of the reasons why papers are desk rejected from JMM. First, we shall review some common reasons for a desk reject decision, and this is then followed by more specific comments from the Editor Professor Mark Tadajewski.

Why is there such a high percentage of Desk Rejects from JMM?

JMM operates a rigorous reviewer policy, with every standard paper that makes it into review being seen by the Editor and Associate Editor and optimally 3 double blind peer reviewers.

JMM does not underestimate the academic labour that goes into providing a good peer review, and reviewers face many demands on their time, particularly those that are considered expert referees in their topic area. Therefore, JMM aims to only send papers for review which are considered to be good candidates to make it through the review process to publication.

What are the primary reasons for a Desk Reject decision?

There are 3 primary reasons that the Editor makes a desk reject decision. (You can read about these 3 factors in more detail in relation to JMM in the Editor’s comments below).

(1) Contribution: How does the manuscript contribute to our existing knowledge? Does the manuscript situate itself in the current literature and theory on the topic? Why is it important to add to an existing topic / create a new topic area? What is the approach taken, and why this specific approach? What are the parameters of the research? Note, be realistic, do not over-state your contribution.

(2) Originality: What is original about the research? Does it make a novel or surprising contribution, or explore a new methodology? Does it apply existing knowledge to a new area, for example by introducing ideas/methods from other disciplines? Note, for example, that in terms of applying an existing methodology to a new geographical area, JMM would expect such research to be conducted on a large scale across multiple countries/regions to be of interest.

(3) Interest to the JMM’s audience: Does the article fit in with the scope of what is published in JMM? Does it enter into an existing narrative in the journal? Note this does not mean overloading the article with prior references to JMM, but authors should provide some selected references to indicate where their research sits in any ongoing conversations in the journal. Be aware of the recency of these – when JMM changes Editor, the scope of the journal may reorient. Just because a topic was featured in JMM 15 years ago does not mean it is automatically of interest now. Also note that if a reference to JMM is included in the reference list, during the editorial process it will be checked that this reference is actually cited in the text of the paper.

If the manuscript does not fit into an existing stream of research in JMM, this does not preclude submission, but authors should address this and explain why the paper has been submitted to the journal – is there a gap in the literature, does the research stem from another disciplinary area, etc.

The best way for authors to highlight how their paper addresses these 3 concerns is to submit a cover letter to the Editor which clearly indicates why the paper is a suitable submission to JMM according to the above criteria, and to also make sure to include a ‘Summary Statement of Contribution’ of up to 75 words on the paper itself, after the abstract.

Other common reasons contributing to a Desk Reject decision

There are several other reasons which may contribute to a Desk Reject decision, including:

  • Scope – Does the paper fit the Journal’s Aims & Scope? Read the Journal’s Aims & Scope page carefully  If you are not sure if your article fits with JMM, you can email the Editorial Office prior to submission for guidance.
  • Type of paper – look at papers published in JMM before. For example, we don’t tend to publish papers that are composed mainly of statistical analyses and complex equations.
  • Age of references/content – make sure that your literature review is right up to date, and that the research itself is recent.
  • Ethical conventions – have you addressed the necessary ethical conventions regarding the research?
  • Length – we invite submissions of around 8,000-10,000 words excluding references. Papers of only 2-3,000 words are not acceptable.
  • Clarity of language – how readable is the paper? Try and look at the paper as a reviewer would. Is the argument in the paper clearly understandable?
  • Style – prepare the paper according to the Instructions for Authors Pay special attention to how other papers in JMM are structured.
  • Referencing – are all the citations in the paper included in the reference list, and has the correct referencing style been used (APA)? References should not be provided as footnotes.
  • Self referencing – limit self-referencing. Excessive self-referencing is something that is checked for on submission.
  • Proof reading – have you carefully proof-read the paper to remove typos and grammatical errors?

We hope this has given an indication of some of the reasons for Desk Rejects from JMM. Remember that approximately 65% of papers are Desk Rejected, and just because a submission may not be suitable for JMM does not mean it is not a suitable submission to another journal.

Below please find some more specific guidance from the Editor.

On the Issues of Contributions and Desk Rejections

Mark Tadajewski, University of York and Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

When submitting a publication to any journal, whether the Journal of Marketing Management (JMM) or some other outlet, there are some valuable rules of thumb that should be followed. In the first place, it is essential to read the positioning statements that have been produced by the current editorial team. Over the course of any editor’s tenure, they will – most likely – have reoriented the publication in some fashion to take account of current trends, possible future directions and desirable areas for further scholarly investigation that have previously been ignored. This is true of the Journal of Marketing Management (see https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?show=aimsScope&journalCode=rjmm20).

As has been stressed repeatedly, we welcome contributions from across the intellectual spectrum ranging from managerial, logical empiricist approaches through to Critical Marketing Studies and everything in between (e.g. Consumer Culture Theory and Transformative Consumer Research among many others). The key factors that are considered when any paper is received are (1) contribution, (2) originality and (3) interest to the JMM’s audience. Authors must state why their research is important and interesting, outline how their work revises what we know about a research domain (conceptually, theoretically and/or empirically), how it contributes to advancing the literature in productive directions (i.e. how it can stimulate further research) and why it is of interest to the audience of the JMM. Of necessity, this will be achieved by embedding the manuscript within the appropriate literature. This includes all relevant published, unpublished and forthcoming material where possible.

Authors can approach knowledge production in multiple ways. Academics can claim the literature is currently marked by confusion (Sandberg & Alvesson, 2011). There may, after all, be substantial numbers of papers on a given topic, yet little substantive agreement regarding the core factors that influence firm or consumer behaviour in the marketplace, for example. This type of research is typically subsumed under the label of ‘gap-spotting’. It is the type of contribution offered by most manuscripts. In terms of the originality of the work, it may run into difficulties in that reviewers can perceive the paper to be making only incremental advances on what we already know. This places the onus on the author(s) involved to firmly press home how their work meaningfully advances debate on any given theory or topical area.

For some academics, ‘gap-spotting’ research is a conservative publication strategy. It is probably less risky than more radical approaches that target the foundations of the discipline for problematisation (Sandberg & Alvesson, 2011). When trying to problematise a core theory or concept, an attempt may be made to question extant theory by comparing it against marketplace reality with a view to refuting the generality of the claims which surround a topic. As a case in point, targeting conceptual foundations – such as the notion of ‘marketing as exchange’ or as having undergone a shift towards a relational orientation in the 1970s or the idea of the consumer as a co-producer of value – are likely to significantly reorient the way we understand the core assumptions in play in our discipline. This makes such studies interesting, but also extremely provocative.

For instance, the scholars whose work is the focus of attention have invested their intellectual resources in an area, building their reputations in doing so, and they are likely to try to protect their investments. This means that any attempt to problematise a topical area demands that the author making such inroads is well versed in the literature, prepared for the challenges they will meet from reviewers, and willing to be tenacious in the pursuit of their publication goals. They should avoid directly criticising the core individual associated with a research area (which could always appear at least partially ad hominem). A far more effective strategy is to focus on the general body of literature. In other words, depersonalise any critique. We are a community of scholars all seeking to advance the frontiers of knowledge. Mutual support, assistance in intellectual development and the appropriate accordance of respect to all those who attempt to help us improve our work are values we should uphold.

In pursuing this strategy, scholars will have to engage the reader on a step-by-step basis. Outline the core themes in the literature you seek to contest, focusing on the most directly pertinent material (but bearing in mind the comments above). State explicitly why the study is important and how it advances existing conversations in the area or how it reorients the way we think about the topic, that is, radically departs from received wisdom. This may mean using the existing literature in a relatively limited way. What I mean by this is that the extant literature in marketing or consumer research is used as a springboard into a more inter-disciplinary review, perhaps citing a greater volume of material from our sister disciplines, in order to generate new theoretical or conceptual contributions that shed much needed light on our discipline.

In this case, academics will need to make a compelling case that the new theory or conceptual architecture does transform or has the potential to transform our intellectual universe in meaningful ways. Simply introducing a theory or concept is unlikely to achieve this; often the new theory will have to be utilised in conjunction with a suitable case study to illuminate how it enables us to rethink our existing assumptions, concepts and the empirical world (which may be muddled or subject to alternative, compelling interpretations). The astute scholar will follow this with an agenda for future research. This will encourage other academics to cite the original work to justify their stream of research. What we have here in this age of metrics is a virtuous citation-circle for the original author. And given the rising attention being devoted to metrics of all kinds, this is probably a sensible strategy for new and established researchers alike, particularly as new appointments are sometimes requested to provide citation data to be considered for various roles.

But, authors do need to appreciate that the publication process is highly competitive and likely to become even more so going forward, especially during periods in the run up to research assessment exercises or those points in the year when promotion committees are likely to meet. The JMM has, over the course of my editorial tenure, received a very high volume of submissions, with 65% of submissions to the standard Journal (i.e. non-special issue submissions) ultimately desk rejected, with only 8% of manuscripts making it to publication. To press this point home, this means that 92% of the work which is received will not be published in the JMM. If an author receives a desk rejection notification, they will not – unfortunately – receive detailed feedback on their work. This is because the sheer volume of submissions being evaluated by the editor is extremely high and it is not possible to provide this information. What the editor will usually proffer is an indication of where the author should consider submitting their research, with a specific publication being cited as a potential vehicle for dissemination.

The suggestions outlined above, and the additional reading presented below, is offered to help authors position their work so that they can maximise their chances of moving into the review process, but – as usual – nothing in this life is guaranteed. All authors can do is ensure their work fits with the editorial policy of the Journal, tailor their contributions accordingly, secure appropriate feedback from their peers and colleagues prior to submission via departmental seminars and conference presentations, and then submit their research when ready.

Even though the institutional environment we all inhabit is pressurised and stressful, with administrators monitoring academic productivity on a regular basis, it remains the case that we should all avoid rushing submissions and requested revisions. Whilst anxiety and stress might push us to pursue publication as quickly as we can, it also runs the risk of failing to consider the reviewers’ suggestions with due care and attention; a strategy that should never be recommended to anyone for the reason that once a paper is rejected, it cannot be resubmitted, and rejection can occur at any stage in the review process. Just because a paper has made it through to the review process, secured the opportunity to be revised and resubmitted, and subsequently entered into a further round of reviews does not guarantee acceptance. Engaging appropriately with the reviewers’ comments, revising the manuscript to strengthen the contribution, and justifying all the decisions and choices made during the review process, is the best way to ensure a paper does not receive a rejection notice.

The following material may be useful for authors, and is recommended reading regarding the scope of potential contributions:

As ever, we look forward to being given the opportunity to review your highest quality work.

References

Sandberg, J. & Alvesson, M. (2011). Ways of constructing research questions: gap-spotting or problematization? Organization, 18–23–44. https://doi.org/10.1177/1350508410372151
Summer, J.O. (2001). Guidelines for conducting research and publishing in marketing: From conceptualization through the review process. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 29, 405–415. https://doi.org/10.1177/03079450094243

This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, unless otherwise stated. Third party materials remain the copyright of the original rightsholder.

JMM Editorial Office

JMM Editorial Office

The Journal of Marketing Management (JMM) Editorial Office is based at Westburn Publishers Ltd. From 2010, Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group, publish and distribute JMM. Westburn remains the owner of JMM, and continues to be responsible for the editorial process and policy of the Journal.

Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this posting are the views of the Author(s), and are not necessarily the views of the JMM Editors, Westburn Publishers Ltd. or Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.