Can I reject a manuscript in the Independent Review stage?

Yes. As an Associate Editor (handling editor), after a preliminary content check, you may either decide to send the manuscript out for review or recommend it for immediate rejection to the Specialty Chief Editor. In the latter case, the Specialty Chief Editor may confirm your recommendation of immediate rejection due to the manuscript meeting any of Frontiers’ as described in the peer review guidelines under rejection criteria. The Specialty Chief Editor may, nevertheless, override your recommendation and decide that the manuscript deserves being reviewed, in which case he/she will assign the article to a new Associate Editor to send it out for review.

Once reviewers are assigned to a manuscript, you can recommend rejection by activating the Interactive Review phase with major concerns, providing the authors with any reviewer reports and a unique opportunity for comments before the rejection recommendation can be sent to the Specialty Chief Editor.