Mistakes i made when sending my research paper for the first time to a Journal

After publishing my research papers last year, after a few months in January 2019 i also managed to finish writing my new paper called „Real-Time Identification of Animals and Birds found in Domestic Areas of Europe“. Instead of sending it to a conference, i had in mind to send it this time to a journal. I took this decision after reading the paper „Machine learning for image based species identification“ by Jana Wäldchen and Patrick Mäder during my research. I saw that their paper is published by a journal called „Methods in Ecology and Evolution„, which had an impact factor of 6.36 in 2017 and i took the decision to try my luck here and submitted it on 19 January 2019. On 05. February i already got an E-Mail from the Senior Editor informing me that my paper is rejected: „Although your paper presents an interesting proof of principle, I doubt that the tool you describe has the taxonomic resolution required to be useful in ecological applications. In such studies accurate species-level identifications are usually required. I am sure that in the future this will be possible, however the tool you describe lacks this capability. We have to reject many more papers than we can publish and I regret to inform you that we are declining your manuscript for publication at this stage“ as can be seen in the image below:

What i found out is that during the article submission process, there are 2 categories: technical and non-technical; and that in order to successfully submit my paper, a cover letter must be written. The big mistake i think i made in this cover letter was that i bolded „…promotes the development of new methods in ecology and evolution.“ as can be seen below:

Dear Dr. Francesca Parrini:

I am pleased to submit an original research article entitled “Real-Time Identification of Animals and Birds found in Domestic Areas of Europe” for consideration and for publication in the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Journal.

We believe that this manuscript is appropriate for publication by the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Journal because it promotes the development of new methods in ecology and evolution. Our manuscript presents a novel method in identifying birds and animals found in the domestic areas of Europe using Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) and Residual Networks in order to build a system capable of identifying and classifying 34 classes from images as well as in real-time from videos or trough a webcam. Experimental results show an overall accuracy of 92.5% for identifying a number of 21 classes representing animals and a number of 13 classes representing birds.
We show that our system has the highest number of animals and birds successfully identified, unique advantages when compared with related works and that it is capable to automatically generate a new dataset which contains textual information as well as images of the identified species, in real-time. This results in a valuable dataset for researchers, especially in the area of ecology.

This manuscript has not been published and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. We have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Thank you for your consideration!

Sincerely,
Sorin Liviu Jurj
PhD Student
Politehnica University of Timisoara

The reason i bolded that text was because i thought that a new method of identifying birds and animals found in domestic areas of Europe = new methods in ecology and evolution“. Big mistake! This is a „noob“ mistake, as we call it in Dota 2.  No wonder the professionals in the Field of Ecology rejected my paper, probably even laughing at me.

Because i didn’t want to quit, the next day, on 06 February 2019, i sent the paper to another Journal called „Journal of Animal Ecology“ with an Impact Factor of 4.46, thinking that maybe here i will have luck, but keeping the same bolded text as before (here i didn’t know yet that this may be the reason of rejection). Also here i got a rejection on 21 February 2019: „Having read in detail your manuscript, I regret that I will not be sending it out for further review. This is because the results you report are too limited in scope to attract the broad audience readership of Journal of Animal Ecology. While I enjoyed reading your work aiming to propose a new method to identify vertebrates in Europe using a CNN model, and found your original approach to be potentially relevant, your work is too methodologically oriented and does not provide any new insight on any ecological process. As it stands, your work is better suited for a methodological journal such as Ecological Modelling.“, as can be seen in the image below:

Well, ofcourse i was sad a bit, but atleast here they suggested me the name of another journal from Elsevier called „Ecological Modelling“ (Impact Factor in 2016: 2.363) where i was thinking i may succeed. So, on 22 February 2019 i sent my paper also here with a big hope, but still without changing the bolded text in the cover letter mentioned above. What do you think, i succeeded? Answer: No.

I really liked the fact that here the rejection comment at the bottom of the E-Mail made me understand where the main problem can really be in my submission „Dear author,
As indicated your manuscript, currently CNN is a state-of-the-art for handling image recognition, and it is used in various fields. Also your research presented high performance for the identification of animals and birds.
Although your paper has valuable information, I realized that the objectives of the paper is not fitted to the scope of the journal Ecological Modelling.

The paper does not include ecological meaning or approaches, but it focuses on the identification of animals through CNN. It is applicable for monitoring and data acquisition.

I recommend you submit the paper to Ecological Informatics. Therefore, we return you the paper without additional review process.“, as can be seen in the image below:

Here, after so many rejections, i finally realized what the problem was. I was writing the Cover Letter wrong all the time! and so I changed the Cover Letter text and on February 26, 2019, i submitted the paper for the last time to another journal from Elsevier called Ecological Informatics (Impact Factor: 1.820) with the following text:

Sorin Liviu Jurj
Computer Science and Engineering Department
Advanced Computing Systems and Architectures (ACSA) Laboratory
Politehnica University of Timisoara
2 V. Parvan Blvd
Timisoara, 300223, Timis, Romania
jurjsorinliviu@yahoo.de

Journal Manager
Ecological Informatics Journal

February 26, 2019

Dear Journal Manager,

I am pleased to submit an original research article entitled “Real-Time Identification of Animals and Birds found in Domestic Areas of Europe” for consideration and for publication in the Ecological Informatics Journal.

We believe that this manuscript is appropriate for publication by the Ecological Informatics Journal because it is applicable for monitoring and data acquisition. Our manuscript presents a novel method in identifying birds and animals found in the domestic areas of Europe using Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) and Residual Networks in order to build a system capable of identifying and classifying 34 classes from images as well as in real-time from videos or trough a webcam. Experimental results show an overall accuracy of 92.5% for identifying a number of 21 classes representing animals and a number of 13 classes representing birds.
We show that our system has the highest number of animals and birds successfully identified, unique advantages when compared with related works and that it is capable to automatically generate a new dataset which contains textual information as well as images of the identified species, in real-time. This results in a valuable dataset for researchers, especially in the area of ecology.

This manuscript has not been published and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. We have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Thank you for your consideration!

Sincerely,

Sorin Liviu Jurj
PhD Student
Politehnica University of Timisoara

After just two days, on 28 February 2019, i received an automatic message from them saying that „I am currently identifying and contacting reviewers who are acknowledged experts in the field. Since peer review is a voluntary service it can take time to find reviewers who are both qualified and available. While reviewers are being contacted, the status of your manuscript will appear in EVISE® as ‚Reviewer Invited‚. Once a reviewer agrees to review your manuscript, the status will change to ‚Under Review‚. When I have received the required number of expert reviews, the status will change to ‚Ready for Decision‚ while I evaluate the reviews before making a decision on your manuscript.“, as can be seen below:

The nice thing here is that, the same week after Reviewers were invited, my status changed from Reviewer Invited to Under Review, meaning that atleast now i know for sure that my paper is reviewed, at the moment of me writing this text:

How many days will it still take for them to reach a decision? I don’t know, but according to this Post, it can be around 3 months. I also saw here that: 1. From manuscript acceptance to the first appearance of the article online (with DOI), it can take 0.6 weeks (data from 2018) and 2. From manuscript acceptance to the final appearance online of the fully paginated article, it can take 10.0 weeks (data from 2018).

I hope that this blog post will help you avoid the mistakes i made when you will write a cover letter for a journal and also to encourage you never to give up, but always be consequent towards your goal. I find it good to learn from my own mistakes, but i found it even better when i can learn from someones else’s mistakes, so that i don’t waste time and energy when there is no need. So, im curious what mistakes did you made during your paper submission to a conference or a journal. Please comment it as detailed as you can in the comment section below and i will approve it asap (it can take some hours sometimes, so please be patient). Thank you.

Leave a Comment

Diese Website verwendet Akismet, um Spam zu reduzieren. Erfahren Sie mehr darüber, wie Ihre Kommentardaten verarbeitet werden .

Scroll Up