There are three things that happen to a manuscript between submission and editorial decision: the Technical Check, the Review Cycle, and the Editorial Review.
When the editorial office receives a new or revised manuscript, it is queued for a technical check. We download the document with all the submitted items incorporated, and check to see that it meets initial requirements. We may send the manuscript back for formatting changes before an editor is assigned and reviewers are invited.
Although it may seem picky, it pays off in the long run. It’s easier to make sure the details are in place at the beginning of the process than it is to scramble for missing pieces just before a publication deadline.
The most frequently requested corrections on first submission are:
Abstract and keywords missing from the manuscript, is compulsory for authors to submit abstract and keywords along manuscript but this text is not retained for production purposes. If the manuscript doesn’t contain the abstract and keywords, the typeset article will lack them as well.
Reference formatting. If the references are not in the journal format, the manuscript may be sent back for corrections. Related issues include numbering reference citations but leaving the list in alphabetical format so that, for example, reference citation 5 is first in text; and keeping text citations in Journal format with citation numbers, for example (Thompson and Giggs, 2006) 3.
After technical review, we send out invitations to peer reviewers asking them to evaluate the content in the manuscript. Reviewer expertise is matched to manuscript topic using the classifications that authors select for their manuscripts.
The more specific selected topic classifications are, the better chance a reviewer with the right expertise will be invited to look over the article. We advise selecting at least three classifications, but if all classifications selected by the author are generic (for example, “informatics,” “technology use,” “computer-mediated communication”) it’s more difficult for us to find a good match.
Reviewers are allowed 7 days to respond to review invitations by accepting or declining, and are asked to return comments within 30 days if they accept. When everything proceeds according to plan, review comments may be returned in less than a month.
We generally wait 10-14 days before sending reminders for reviews past due date. Two sets of comments are preferred as a basis for an editorial decision, so if one reviewer is unable to complete the assignment, an alternate reviewer will be invited.
When the required numbers of reviews have been received, the comments and manuscript are forwarded for an editorial judgment upon reviewer’s evaluations. In an ideal world, both reviewers make the same recommendation for the manuscript and provide helpful comments to the author where needed to improve the article. The editor agrees, the decision is rendered, and the manuscript proceeds to the revision stage or is accepted and forwarded to production department to be prepared for publication.
What sometimes happens is that reviewer recommendations diverge widely. One reviewer thinks the article is a good fit for the journal; the other does not. In these cases, the chief editor acts as a referee, considering the review comments, re-reading the manuscript, and making the decision as to how the manuscript will be processed.
If the disagreement between recommendations is strong enough, a third reviewer may be invited to evaluate the manuscript.
The editorial decision may also pick up areas where the manuscript can be improved, such as style or formatting requirements, lack of mention of findings/results, out-of-date references, lacking proper research or issues in translation from another language to English.
The editorial decision incorporates the reviewer’s recommendations and the next step in the process; for example, if the reviewers recommend major content changes, the editorial decision will likely be revising and resubmit for re-review. If only minor changes to content are recommended, an editor may choose to conduct the final review without involving peer reviewers, or may accept the manuscript pending revisions and final editorial approval.