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In an impressive debut, the seemingly inevitable Journal of Universal Rejection has hit the scene, capturing the inverse relationship between publication quantity and publication quality to perfection. Sporting the tagline “Reporbatio certa, hora incerta” (echoing the Latin “mors certa, hora incerta” [“death is certain, but the hour is not”], JofUR promises:

. . . all submissions, regardless of quality, will be rejected.

Despite this apparently dismal outlook, the JofUR offers some compelling benefits to prospective authors:

  • You can send your manuscript here without suffering waves of anxiety regarding the eventual fate of your submission. You know with 100% certainty that it will not be accepted for publication.
  • There are no page-fees.
  • You may claim to have submitted to the most prestigious journal (judged by acceptance rate).
  • The JofUR is one-of-a-kind. Merely submitting work to it may be considered a badge of honor.
  • You retain complete rights to your work, and are free to resubmit to other journals even before our review process is complete.
  • Decisions are often (though not always) rendered within hours of submission.

This radical approach has garnered media attention from the likes of NPR. However, Paul Kedrosky did us all a favor by submitting a paper, only to be greeted soon thereafter with a charming rejection, as promised:


Thank you for your titleless pre-textual submission to the Journal of Universal Rejection.  I have imagined what your submission might have been and found it unworthy of publication in our prestigious journal.  Try not to feel too sad about this rejection.

Best regards,


Caleb Emmons, PhD
Journal of Universal Rejection

Now, while this level of rejection seems difficult to improve upon, I have a few suggestions for its editorial and business staff to consider:

  • Submission charges should be considered. After all, there is a price to rejection, and rejection is an important aspect of defining your brand.
  • Each issue list (currently designated as [empty]) could be enhanced by a listing of what possibly might have been there. For instance, January — zero papers published, rejects = 274 from 57 different countries.
  • I sense a product line here, and suggest that the obvious next step — the Journal of Universal Acceptance. But, of course, this would face much more competition from existing vanity publishing operations in the market.
  • There is no conflict of interest policy on their site. I worry about this. While rejection may be uniform, it’s important to know it’s being done for the right reasons.

For stringent editorial standards and an untarnished reputation, the Journal of Universal Rejection stands apart.

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Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.


9 Thoughts on "The Journal of Universal Rejection, and Suggestions for Improving It"

The Journal of Universal Acceptance exists under many alternate titles – as many as there are blogs, lab webpages and open notebook wikis. These are all means of self-publication and dissemination to the world at large. Not taken much into account by tenure or hiring committees, though.

I do not know the outlook or motivations of the “founder” of The Journal of Universal Rejection, but I interpret the creation of this mock journal as a satire on all those who criticize PLoS One and its ilk. The satire exposes the basic flaw in traditional journal publishing (in all publishing, for that matter) in which reputation is based on exclusion. I am a supporter of traditional editorial review myself, but I do know when my beard is being tweaked.

In addition to the statistics for rejected manuscripts, I would like to suggest that they include the list of manuscripts rejected. The table of contents could be a list of rejections. While at other journals, the list of rejected manuscripts is closely guarded, given the policy of universal rejection, the stigma of rejection is not an issue with this journal.

A couple more suggestions:

— As another benefit, they should cite their extremely flexible submission requirements, presuming that they place few technical restrictions on the types of files that may be submitted (including, presumably, both SGML — even in ISO12083 — and napkins).

— It’s odd that they don’t mention their peer reviewers. I would think they could attract quite a few, who could then tout both their status as gatekeepers and their extreme selectivity while committing to very little ( = 0 ) work.

I’m wondering if there are any spaces available on the editorial board. I’ll be going up for promotion this year and could use another entry on my CV.

In the interests of enhancing the efficiency of the journal’s operation, and hence reducing costs, I suggest that the entire process be automated. In that way, the submitting author will have an almost instantaneous rejection letter, and Dr. Emmons will not have to wrack his brains to come up with personalized letters. If the authors are asked to provide their birth dates, the rejection letters could be varied according to astrological sign, just so that everyone won’t receive exactly the same letter. I am wondering, though: does this journal accept ads?

Interesting question. One would hope not, given their reliance on prior peer-review:

. . . papers are “peer skimmed”. We rely on the technical review provided by the journal from which the paper was originally rejected . . .

However, why not?

I am happy to report to my colleagues that the Journal of Universal Rejection has been named the winner of the prestigious 2010 SuperEco Green Journal of the Year prize (apologies to ACOG) by the International Directorate Of Impact-free Transmission. The Directorate rightly notes that while many online-only journals avoid the use of paper, ink, and fossil fuels for distribution, the JUR has eliminated the requirement for any server hardware whatsoever, as well as the electricity required to power the typical data center.

“We congratulate the JUR for achieving this new apex of eco-friendliness in publishing,” said Directorate President Bachto Kaaves. “We hope other leading scholarly publishers will follow their lead in completely eliminating their carbon footprints. Imagine the potential opportunities for eco-friendly adaptive re-use of university libraries around the world.”

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