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Why do journals not give comments?

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In our most recent "how can we help you?" thread, EL.DEE.ESS writes: I have a question about the journal review process. I have run into the following problem in submitting to top tier journals, namely, that the journal gives a rejection without providing comments. It seems clear that it is not a desk rejection, as the papers were under review for several months, so it seems that the referees would have written down their thoughts on the paper. But the following justification is given for not providing comments: “We cannot provide comments on all rejected papers. We focus rather on arriving at a well-informed judgment without undue delay.” What is going on here? Are the editors simply refusing to provide comments because it takes up unnecessary time? Did the referees not write comments up at all? If there are no comments, on what basis is the rejection being made? I know that the journals in question *do* occasionally given comments for rejected papers, so it is not as if they do not have the infrastructure or mechanism to provide them. I am wondering then why comments are provided on some rejected papers but not others. It is hard to see how simply *passing on* the comments for all rejected (but not desk-rejected) papers would make the process take longer or cause an undue burden in any material sense, but if I am missing something here, I would genuinely be curious to know. After all, having the comments can be extremely helpful. Any thoughts on what’s going here would be greatly appreciated. This is a really great query - one that I have wondered about myself for quite a long time. I suppose it makes sense not to forward comments for quick desk-rejections. What does seem more puzzling is when a paper has been under review for a number of months (2-3+ months) but no comments at all are forwarded to the author. Assuming the papers did go out to referees, there seem to be only two possibilities: either the referees gave no comments, or the editors did not. . .

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News source: The Philosophers' Cocoon

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