After 3 months of submission I got this mail from EJC without any specific reason of rejection.

"We regret to inform you that we have decided not to proceed with publication of your submission "..." to The Electronic Journal of Combinatorics.

Our journal receives a great number of high quality submissions every year, and we can only publish those few that in our estimation have the most substantial mathematical depth, importance, originality and interest to our readers.

We thank you for submitting your paper to our journal. We would be happy to consider future papers of yours for publication."

Now I do not understand was that paper refereed or not. And if there is any mistake or it was not up to their mark then why they have not mentioned that.


closed as off-topic by Steven Landsburg, András Bátkai, LSpice, David Handelman, Chris Godsil May 17 at 21:27

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    $\begingroup$ EJC = Electronic Journal of Combinatorics, right ? $\endgroup$ – Johannes Trost May 17 at 11:47
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    $\begingroup$ It most likely means that they sent your paper out to get a "quick" opinion or two, and received a report indicating that the referee did not feel that your paper was sufficiently innovative or deep for their journal. Frequently the person sending the quick review indicates that it is for the editor only, in which case the editor can't send you a copy. The report almost certainly didn't include specific suggestions. If you disagree with this assessment, you can try sending your article to a comparable journal; or you can try a journal that is somewhat less selective. $\endgroup$ – Joe Silverman May 17 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, thank you for suggestion $\endgroup$ – Sayan Goswami May 17 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ Just last week or so, they sent me the same email. ;-) Ultimately you never really know, but you could send it to some colleague to get a frank opinion about where to try to publish it. $\endgroup$ – Pat Devlin May 17 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, this is a common practice. And you can do nothing about this. As a consolation, consider that they held the paper for 3 months only, rather than 2 years. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko May 17 at 21:30

You have to understand that top journals have to make harsh decisions. They receive a lot more papers than they can publish. If every paper would be sent to a referee, then they would receive more positive reports than they could accept, and then they would have a huge backlog. Many journals do the following:

  1. The editor in charge makes a quick assessment of a paper and he or she decides whether the papers should be sent to a referee or returned to the author. This should be a quick process, but it is not always the case. The editors are regular people who work as a faculty and they do the editorial work when they have time.

  2. The editor sends a paper for a quick opinion. A person who is asked for a quick opinion is not asked to referee the paper, but just to have a quick assessment of the quality of the results (without checking the proofs). Then based on this opinion the editor decides whether the paper should be refereed or send back to the author. In that case, the opinion is often informal and therefore not forwarded to the author. Since it took 3 months for your paper to be rejected, I suspect that the opinion 2. was used.

Three months is not much. Many papers are rejected after a year or more. You should not feel bad. If you still think this is a good paper you should send it somewhere else. However, you should not send it to a journal that, in your opinion, is much beyond the level of the paper, because:

  1. That would not be fair. If such a papers gets accepted in a top journal you get credit for a paper that does not deserve it.
  2. You intentionally lower the quality of the journal.
  3. You risk that a referee will keep a paper for a year and then reject it.

I know it is very difficult to assess the quality of your own paper especially for someone who does not have much experience (that is a general statement and I do not know if it applies to you). Anyway, make the best judgments you can (perhaps ask for an opinion) and submit to the journal that is at an appropriate level.

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    $\begingroup$ I strongly disagree that an author should be at all concerned with your first two points (the third, of course, is very important). Maintaining the standards of a journal is the job of the editors, and to a lesser extent the referees. $\endgroup$ – Andy Putman May 17 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ Also, a junior researcher such as the OP is hardly in great danger of getting a so-so paper accepted in a top journal. In my experience at least, that happens most often to people with well established reputations. $\endgroup$ – Christian Remling May 17 at 21:49

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