Submit to only one journal at a time

About good practices in journal submission


Submitting your article to more than one journal at the same time is a bit like being engaged to more than one person at the same time. There might be (academic) communities where this is acceptable, but by and large it is seriously frowned upon.

I know it is terribly frustrating to have to wait months for a decision and then (if rejected) have to start the whole process again. But remember: the journal editor and reviewers are putting in a lot of time to review your paper and generally don’t get any financial rewards for doing so. In the case of reviewers, there isn’t even a reputational reward as the work is usually done without any public recognition.

Publishing your work: Engagement, dating or marriage?

Submitting to two journals at the same time is unethical; it means that you are using (and even abusing) very scarce resources purely to your own advantage. Don’t ever think nobody will find out, academia is a very small world. The same person might be asked to review your paper for both journals and is not going to pleased about that. And imagine what happens if both journals accept the article and you have to tell one of them: no thanks! Do you think that editor will ever look at another paper of yours again?

The same proviso doesn’t apply to “dating”. Until the relationship gets more serious, most cultures will be fine with people dating more than one person at the same time. The academic equivalent is presenting your paper at different university seminars and/or sending it round to informal reviewers. Academics do not expect exclusivity at that stage.

Whether the same is true for submission to conferences is a bit of a grey area. One would certainly not submit the same paper to half a dozen conferences. Submitting a paper to two conferences is usually condoned, although not always officially sanctioned, especially if the expected audience at both conferences is quite different.

The other end of the process - duplicate publication in two different journals - is a definite no-no in the academic world. It is a bit like being married to two people at the same time. Of course sometimes articles are reprinted in other languages or in book collections, but this involves open and transparent negotiation as well as copyright payments (the analogy with marriages obviously stops here!). And yes, once an article is published, you are usually allowed to “publish” some version of it on other fora, such as Researchgate,, your university repository or your own academic website. But that’s a story for another blogpost.

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