It’s become fairly clear that most people don’t really know how articles get from the pen into the ‘accepted’ queue at a journal.
At the most wonderful paediatric / child health journal on the planet (*) the process works like this:
* ADC of course!
- You submit online
- Your submission is checked by a publishing assistant against ‘technical’ criteria (like – have you uploaded the right forms?)
- Your paper is seen by the Chief Editor
- A decision to reject may be made – this could be because of poor scientific quality, poor ‘fit’ (eg submitting a paper about managing carotid stenosis in 60 year old elephants), or ‘priority’. This is a tricky thing to define, but means the originality / newsworthiness / comparison to stuff already in the pipeline means that the paper isn’t right for now, in competition with all the other stuff we have.
- If not, an Associate Editor – AE – gets your paper. They are usually more specialist in the area of your study.
- See 4.
- If not, peer review will likely be looked for. This is usually 2 or more people unconnected to you paper, in addition to the AE that will critically read & comment on your paper
- The reviews are considered by the AE. If there is a clear reject, this may occur straight away.
- Many papers go to ‘auction’ – this is not where you get to bid on it – but where the AE defends their ideas about your paper and the reviews in front of a bunch of other AEs. A decision is then made.
- If may be reject – see 4
- Or ‘offer revision’.
This usually means we like the idea, the basics of the paper, but it’s not good enough. It might be that it’s murky – and that when written clearer we can publish it. Sometimes the clarity means we can then see its fatal flaws – see 4. If this happens, and the murky writing has been an intentional ploy, mostly we feel a bit pissed off. This is not good karma.
- Or ‘accept with revision’
This means we REALLY like it and just need you to change the typos, alter the figures or address some minor points (or rebut them) so we can put your shiny thing out for the world to see
- When you submit a revision, it goes through a more rapid version of the above, sometimes not needing further peer review, sometimes getting rejected, very very very rarely getting a third chance. Fourth is almost never.
- If / when accepted, you then get a bunch of technical emails to do things with, like open access payments, copyright etc
- When you get proofs to look at – these are PDFs that look like the journal article willLOOK AT THEM
- This is your last chance to fix up typos or copy-edit corrections that nonsense make your fluffy prose~lets
- Then it gets online first, and the world delights in you
- Then it gets into a paper copy and your Mother delights
Hope that helps
- Bob Phillips