Module 5: The Editorial Process

Summary

This module provides an outline of the editorial process required and describes how manuscripts are handled from submission to eventual acceptance. By the end of this module editors should feel more confident in the handling of submissions, the process of using peer review and how to make fair, ethical publishing decisions.

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • Organize the editorial process of their journal
  • Understand the responsibilities of all participants
  • Explain what happens between submission and decision

Introduction

Let’s start this module with a question. What is the overall process for getting your paper published in a scholarly journal? Let’s look at who does what from a couple of different perspectives. Here is the (typical) linear flow of the process:

  • the Author makes a submission to a scholarly journal
  • the editorial office ensure that the submission is complete and ready for consideration
  • the Editor decides whether or not the submission clearly fits the scope of the journal and has sufficient merit to be reviewed by Editorial Board or selected external reviewers
  • the review process is started
  • the reviewers (also called referees), complete the review and returns the manuscript to the editor with comments and recommendations
  • the Editor makes a decision to accept or reject submission or ask for revisions
  • the Editor returns submission back to the author with the decision and feedback from the reviewers and requests for revisions (if needed)
  • the Author makes corrections and resubmits the manuscript to editor
  • the Editor (sometimes) sends revised manuscript back to external reviewers
  • the editor makes a final decision – accept or reject
  • the author has an opportunity to appeal a rejection decision

For over 300 years, since the introduction of scientific journal publishing, this tradition or systemic process of managing scientific knowledge production has guided every journal editor. The system engages the services of individual volunteers who are chosen based on their expertise, to perform distinct altruistic roles, within the journal publishing process.

As a potential editor or editor, you are likely to be involved in all of these roles over the course of your career, and therefore a careful examination of the process is necessary. The decision-making process is crucial not only to the success of the journal, but also to the development of scholarly knowledge.

In the following units we’ll dig into the process in detail and you’ll learn how to make sure that your journal follows the best practices of scholarly journals around the world.

Units

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