Information for new authors
Although experienced authors will be familiar with the publishing process before submitting to your journal, new and inexperienced authors may need more information. It can therefore be useful to provide a document specifically for new authors in your Author Guidelines to help to answer their questions.
Below is a possible template for a guide for new authors. It would need to be adapted to fit your own journal’s workflow and policies.
What Happens to My Paper?
This guide is designed to help you understand the process that your manuscript will go though from the point that you submit it to [JOURNAL NAME] up until the point when it is (hopefully) published.
The overall process can be divided into two stages:
- The Editorial Process
- The Production Process
Each of these processes is described in more detail below.
The Editorial Process
1. Submitting your paper
Before submitting your manuscript, please read the Author Guidelines carefully. These will tell you how to prepare and submit your paper.
2. Who decides what to publish?
Most papers are peer reviewed. However, some are rejected without going through the peer review process if the Editor decides that they are not suitable for the journal.
The final decision on what to publish rests with the Editor. The Editor is an expert in the field and makes unbiased, independent decisions. In maintaining high levels of quality through the peer review process, we are able to assure our readers that only the most relevant leading research is published in our reputable journal.
The acceptance criteria are rigorous and about [X]% of manuscripts are rejected.
3. What happens after my paper is submitted?
When you submit a paper it is given an initial check by the Managing Editor to ensure that it conforms to the submission criteria, before being forwarded to the Editor who decides whether it is suitable for sending out for peer review.
If a paper is selected for peer review, the Editor will either send the paper to suitable reviewers or assign an Associate Editor to act on their behalf.
The Action Editor (i.e. the Editor or Associate Editor who is handling your paper) will usually invite [X] reviewers to comment on the article and make a recommendation about its suitability for publication. Each reviewer is normally allowed [X] days to submit his or her report, but may occasionally be allowed longer.
When the reviewers’ comments have been received, the Action Editor will make a decision, taking into account their recommendations, and you will be notified of the decision by e-mail.
The decision may invoke another round of peer review at a later stage if you are invited to revise and resubmit your article (see decision notification e-mails and what they mean, below). It is usual for a paper to go through at least [X] author revisions before acceptance.
Reviewers are selected on an ad hoc basis and may have no connection with the journal. However, we also have a panel of reviewers who have agreed to review a pre-specified number of manuscripts per year. The Action Editor may choose any combination of ad hoc and panel reviewers.
Reviewers are chosen based on their knowledge in the field of research, their independence from the author of the paper (and any related institutions), their ability to evaluate the paper fully and fairly, and their availability to assess the paper within the allotted timeframe. Although reviewers’ recommendations are highly valued in the peer review process, the final decision on a manuscript always rests with the Action Editor.
If you are suitably qualified and would like to be considered as a possible referee for papers submitted to the journal, we would be pleased to hear from you - please contact [EMAIL ADDRESS].
5. Paper status indicators and what they mean
Authors can see a general indication of the status of their submitted manuscript at any time on the online peer review system. The main statuses indicated are:
- New submission: The paper has been submitted successfully by the author and is waiting to be checked by the Managing Editor before being forwarded to the Editor.
- Awaiting allocation: The paper has been assigned to the Editor but has not yet been sent to reviewers (however, the Editor may have assigned the manuscript to an Associate Editor – there is no separate system status to indicate this). The Action Editor may decide to make a decision without allocating reviewers.
- Under review: The paper is with reviewers for comment or waiting for the Action Editor’s decision. If the initial reviews are conflicting, the Action Editor may occasionally decide to approach an additional reviewer.
- Decision made – notification imminent: The Action Editor has written an e-mail addressed to the corresponding author and the author will be notified of the decision as soon as the Managing Editor has proofread that e-mail or the Editor has checked it.
6. Decision notification e-mails and what they mean
There are several decisions that authors may receive after submitting their paper:
- Reject without review: The Action Editor has rejected the paper without sending it for peer review.
- Reject: The paper has been through the peer review process and the Action Editor has decided that it is not suitable for publication.
- Revise and resubmit: The paper has been through the peer review process and the Action Editor has decided that it may be suitable for publication after substantial changes are made. The Action Editor and reviewers will usually suggest improvements that will make the paper suitable for publication.
- Accept with minor amendments: The paper has been through the peer review process and the Action Editor has decided that it would be suitable for publication after some relatively minor changes.
- Accept: The Action Editor has decided that the paper is suitable for publication in its current form.
The Editor tries to reach decisions on papers and notify authors as quickly as possible. Reviewers are normally given [X] days to submit their reports. Unfortunately, in rare instances reviewers do not respond promptly and we ask authors to remain patient in such cases.
Journal policy is that authors should be notified of the decision within [X] days of submission and most manuscripts are processed more quickly than this.
If you feel that your manuscript has been unfairly rejected because an important aspect was misunderstood or overlooked by the reviewers, you may appeal to the Action Editor who may then decide to reconsider his or her decision.
In cases of dispute, the appeal may be referred to the Editor. If a satisfactory resolution is still not achieved, the Editor may refer the appeal to [NAME AND POSITION]. This decision is final.
A flowchart summarising the editorial process can be found at the end of this document on page 7.
The Production Process
1. Paper acceptance
Once your paper has been accepted you will be notified by e-mail. Your paper will then be sent to the typesetters for copyediting and layout.
The Media Centre are notified about all accepted papers and they decide whether they will be press released. You may also seek media coverage yourself but we request that you advise the Media Centre ([CONTACT DETAILS]) prior to any activity on your part.
2. Author services
When your paper has been accepted you will be sent an email giving you access to ‘Author Services’, an online portal which will enable you to track your paper and access additional services. Below are the key events which you can track using Author Services.
- Accepted article received in production: The manuscript has been received by the typesetter for production to begin.
- Proofs sent: Typesetting of the proof has been completed, and an e-mail alert with a link to the online proof has been sent to the corresponding author. Corrections should be returned as soon as possible.
- Corrections received: Author corrections have now been received. There will be a delay before your article appears online while the typesetter makes the corrections.
- EarlyView: The corrected article is now published online, ahead of inclusion in a print issue. You may view your article online at this stage. Please note that this is the final, published version of your article; no further changes can be made to it. You can download a PDF Offprint from Author Services.
- Issue published online: The issue containing the article is now published online. The print publication of the article in an issue may precede or follow this stage.
You can view the home page for Author Services at [URL].
To protect authors and journals against unauthorised reproduction of articles, [JOURNAL NAME] requires copyright to be assigned to itself, on the express condition that authors may use their own material at any time without permission. [EXPLANATION OF HOW COPYRIGHT IS ASSIGNED.] Further information about copyright can be found at [URL].
Authors are permitted to self-archive the submitted (preprint) version of the article [WHEN], and may self-archive the accepted (peer-reviewed) version after an embargo period of [X] months.
4. Open Access
OnlineOpen is available to authors of primary research articles who wish to make their article available to non-subscribers on publication, or whose funding agency requires grantees to archive the final version of their article. With OnlineOpen, the author, the author's funding agency, or the author's institution pays a fee to ensure that the article is made available online to non-subscribers, as well as deposited in the funding agency's preferred archive. For more information, please see [URL].
5. Author proofs
An email providing a link to the PDF of your typeset paper will be sent to you approximately [X] days after acceptance. This gives you the opportunity to approve the typesetting and mark any corrections on the online proof (but not introduce substantial amounts of new material). We ask authors to check their proof within [X] days. Instructions for annotating the proof electronically will be provided on the website.
6. Article appears online
Once corrections have been made, your article will be published on the ‘EarlyView’ page of the Journal’s website. This is the final version and will be available for subscribers to download, allowing your research to be searchable and citable before the hard copy journal is published. Once uploaded, it will then wait in the production queue for allocation to an issue. Depending on the publication lag, this may take up to [X] months.
7. Issue collation
Articles are selected for a print issue and the typesetters send a final set of proofs for checking by the Production Editor. Once approved, the issue will proceed to press and print copies will be mailed out to subscribers. Your online article will automatically move from the ‘EarlyView’ page to the relevant online issue.
A flowchart summarising the production process can be found at the end of this document on page 8.