Here we provide an outline of the editorial process involved in publishing a scientific paper. The information below describes how manuscripts are handled once online submitted to a journal by editors.
How to submit an Article
Authors should use the Author Guidelines to ensure that the length and format (particularly the layout of figures and tables and any Supplementary Information) conforms with the specific journal’s requirements, as well as submission and revision stage.
Manuscripts should be submitted via our online manuscript submission system. A cover letter is mandatory because this is an excellent opportunity to briefly discuss the importance of the submitted work and why it is appropriate for the journal.
The cover letter is not shared with the referees, and should be used to provide confidential information such as conflicts of interest and to declare any related work that is in press or submitted elsewhere.
The first stage for a newly submitted Article is that the editorial staff consider whether to send it for peer-review. On submission, the manuscript is assigned to an editor covering the subject area, who seeks informal advice from scientific advisors and editorial colleagues, and who makes this initial decision. The initial judgment is not a reflection on the technical validity of the work described, or on its importance to people in the same field.
Once the decision has been made to peer-review the paper, the choice of referees is made by the editor who has been assigned the manuscript, who will be handling other papers in the same field, in consultation with editors handling submissions in related fields when necessary. Most papers are sent to two or three referees.
Referee’s peer-review reports
The referee’s peer review report will indicate mainly any technical failings that need to be addressed before the authors’ case is established.
To avoid such conflicts of interest of peer-reviewers, we require referees to disclose any professional and commercial competing interests before undertaking to review a paper.
Only after disclosure an invited peer-reviewer will receive the manuscript for reading and peer-reviewing. If an invited peer-reviewer is not able (are willing) to declare a potential conflict of interest, the peer-reviewer will be rejected.
All manuscripts we receive are handled electronically throughout the consideration process. Authors are usually informed within 48 hours if the paper is not being considered for peer-review (desk-rejection). Most referees deliver a peer-review report within fourteen days or other agreed time limit, and submit their peer-review reports online. Decisions by editors are made very rapidly after receipt of all peer-review reports.
All Articles will normally go through at least one round of review, sometimes an extra revision is needed then a second or very limited a third revision of the manuscript is required.
Following decision are made on a manuscript:
- The paper is accepted for publication without any further changes required from the authors.
- The paper is accepted for publication in principle once the authors have made some revisions in response to the referees’ comments (minor or major revision). Under these circumstances, often further experiments or technical work are usually required to address some or all of the referees’ concerns, and revised papers are sent back to some or all of the referees for a second opinion. Revised papers should be accompanied by a point-by-point response to all the comments made by all the referees.
- The paper is rejected with no offer to reconsider a resubmitted version. Under these circumstances, authors are strongly advised not to resubmit a revised version as it will be declined without further review. If the authors feel that they have a strong scientific case for reconsideration (if the referees have missed the point of the paper, for example) they can appeal the decision in writing.
In replying to the referees’ comments, authors are advised to use language that would not cause offence when their paper is shown again to the referees, and to bear in mind that if a point was not clear to the referees and/or editors, it is unlikely that it would be clear to the readers of the journal.
If a manuscript is declined for publication and the editor does not suggest resubmission, authors are strongly advised to submit their paper for publication elsewhere. If an author wishes to appeal against the editor’s decision, the appeal must be made in writing.
If an editor agrees to reconsider a paper, the other original referee(s) will have the chance to see and comment on the report of the referee who is the subject of the complaint. New referees can often raise new sets of points, which complicates and lengthens the consideration process instead of simplifying it.
If an author remains unsatisfied, he or she can write to the Editor, citing the manuscript reference number but the paper must not be submitted for publication elsewhere during this time.
The corresponding author will receive communication of the articles for approval and final sign-off of the editorial process.
Authors subsequently receive an e-proof, including the figures, and can also download a PDF proof of the layout. We suggest that authors send proofs to co-authors for them to check, but request that changes among the co-authors are coordinated so that only one author communicates and only one set of corrections is sent. The corresponding (or other single designated) author is responsible on behalf of all co-authors for the accuracy of all content, including spelling of names and current affiliations of all co-authors, so please ensure these are checked carefully.