Over the recent years, the top journal in physics, Physical Review Letters (PRL), received more and more submissions. Everyone, including those who ran the journal, started to wonder if there were too many people submitting and getting accepted. If this was the best journal, then how could it be that so many papers were getting in?
PRL started when there were a lot of high energy particle experiments going on. The fast paced nature of the work caused a flood of submissions to the predominant Physical Review journal, but by the time the papers were published, they were old news. So, PRL was born to speed up the process for short papers, with a high impact, and quickly became a highly cited journal because of the fast paced nature of the particle experiment field in those days.
Aspiring physicists, like myself, read a lot of PRLs. People know that they'll get a lot of attention if they get into them. To maintain the prestige of the journal, the editors have decided to reject near 40% of the initial submissions without review. An article that I submitted was one of them (the second this year). PRL is now looking for articles that are impactful, innovative, and interesting.
It was ruled that mine was none of those. I had a few people read this one before sending it in and they said the writing was good. I guess we'll submit somewhere else...