Academic Editors at [email protected] are responsible for deciding whether a manuscript should be published as an article in a journal. If you are a new Editor or a Guest Editor or if you have not handled a manuscript for some time, this guide provides step-by-step assistance for the editorial process.
Manuscripts are handled using [email protected]’s Manuscript Tracking System (MTS). Editors receive an email when they are assigned a new manuscript.
Receiving a Manuscript
Our team assign manuscripts based on an Editor’s field of study and current workload. Editors should be comfortable with the topic of the manuscript, but an in-depth understanding is not essential. It is the role of the peer reviewers to assess the technical details. However, if an Editor finds that a manuscript is too far from their area of expertise, they should decline to handle the manuscript.
Although we select our Editors carefully, if an Editor suspects a conflict of interest (e.g., they work in the same institution as one of the authors or are working on a competitive project), they should decline to handle the manuscript.
See our guide on ‘Managing Conflicts of Interest’ for more information.
[email protected] performs essential editorial screening on all submissions, before assigning them to Editors.
On receiving a manuscript, Editors should check if it is potentially suitable for publication. They should consider whether the article suits the scientific scope of the journal, as well as the basic quality of the article. Submissions failing this evaluation should be rejected immediately. All other articles should be sent for formal peer review.
Recruiting Peer Reviewers
Editors should invite at least two reviewers to assess the manuscript. We encourage Editors to invite reviewers of their choosing, but [email protected]’s software will also provide reviewer suggestions.
There are many important factors to consider when selecting a peer reviewer.
- Are they impartial? Reviewers should not work at the same institution as any of the authors, or have an active or recent collaboration with any of the authors. Avoid using any referees whom the authors have requested not be invited. If we detect a potential conflict of interest, we will ask you to assign a different reviewer. See our page on ‘Managing Conflicts of Interest’ for more information.
- Are they qualified? Reviewers should have significant experience in the relevant field. Editors can assess a reviewer’s experience by looking at their publication history. Reviewers range from post-doctoral researchers through to emeritus professors, but occasionally experts from industry may also be appropriate.
- Do they cover every necessary expertise? It may not be possible for a particular referee to adequately assess all aspects of a manuscript. For example, if a manuscript covers practical laboratory-based experiments and high-level theoretical work, it may not be possible to find a single reviewer with all the necessary skills. Editors should ensure that the reviewers are capable, between them, of covering the breadth of techniques employed.
Editors may choose reviewers from their existing academic network. They may have come into contact with suitable reviewers through conferences or collaboration or as colleagues. Searching for key terms in abstracting and indexing services is another excellent way to find referees. We also suggest browsing a manuscript’s reference list to discover researchers working on similar topics. Finding peer reviewers is not always easy, as appropriate candidates may not have the time to accept your invitation.
Asking those who decline an invitation to suggest similarly qualified experts, perhaps from their own research group or institution, is an excellent way of gathering further recommendations.
Reviewers may, upon request, consult with colleagues from their own research group so long as the confidentiality of the manuscript can be maintained. In such cases, we ask that they note the name of the colleague(s) in the ‘comments to the editor’ section of their report.
Making a Decision
Having read and assessed the manuscript, each reviewer will provide a report along with one of the following recommendations:
- Publish Unaltered
- Consider after Minor Changes
- Consider after Major Changes
Considering the reviewers’ recommendations and deciding the fate of a manuscript is not always straightforward. If a majority of reviewers suggest rejection of a manuscript, then it must be rejected. However, if just one reviewer notices a fundamental technical flaw and suggests rejection, it can warrant rejection of a manuscript despite positive recommendations from the other reviewers.
Published manuscripts must be technically sound. Concerns over the validity of the experimental process, or logic employed, should result in rejection. The perceived importance and potential impact of a manuscript should not be a primary cause for rejection, though papers should present original research and add to scientific understanding. [email protected] journals publish niche work of significance to specialists, but replicative and highly derivative work should be rejected unless a strong scientific case supports publication.
If the reviewers raise insurmountable problems, for example if the experiments are critically flawed or the results have been presented previously, then the Editor should reject the manuscript.
[email protected] supports the deposition of manuscripts in preprint servers, and does not consider this to compromise the novelty of the results.
If the manuscript could be improved to make it more suitable for publication, the Editor should invite the authors to revise and resubmit. We ask Editors to use ‘Consider after Minor Changes’ if they are confident that they are able to assess personally whether the suggested changes have been made properly. If an Editor believes they require the reviewers’ expertise to assess the changes, they should use ‘Consider after Major Changes’ instead.
If the reviewers find no fault, and deem the manuscript to be suitable for publication in its current state, the Editor may choose to use ‘Publish Unaltered’.
All manuscripts should be kept completely confidential. Editors should not use any of its insights until after publication.
[email protected] operates a ‘single blind’ approach to peer review. Reviewers know the authors’ names, but the authors are not told the reviewers’ names. At no time should an Editor communicate the names of the reviewers to the authors, or to anybody else in the community.
See our guide ‘Peer Review at [email protected]’ for more information about the review process.
[email protected]’s editorial screening team checks manuscripts and the publication record of the authors for issues including plagiarism and other types of research misconduct. Read our Ethics Policy for full details of our approach to publication ethics issues.
If an Editor becomes aware of any publication ethics issues on a manuscript they are handling, including plagiarism, authorship disputes, duplicate and redundant submission, or manipulation of data and figures, they should contact the Research Integrity Team via [email protected].
From time to time, we may consult you about ethics issues on published articles. [email protected] is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and we recommend reading their guidelines and other resources.
In recognition of the Editors’ work and to provide transparency about the journal’s review process, the name of the Editor who accepts a manuscript will be mentioned in the final published version of the paper.