Submitting your manuscript to a research journal

Research journals strive to publish high-quality research papers by experts in their respective fields. This primer provides more information for authors on what the manuscript evaluation process looks like.

What does the manuscript evaluation process look like?

Editors, reviewers, technical editors, production staff and other internal staff all have their roles in ensuring submissions meet rigorous scientific and ethical reporting standards. The first step in the process consists of two checks: the technical screening and the editorial screening.

A technical screening is performed by a technical editor to screen for common mistakes in the initial submission. This includes things like missing elements critical for proper citation, a lack of ethical statements, or statistics that aren’t clear in the manuscript. The second part of the first step is an editorial screening. This is where a research journal will determine if the subject matter presented is suitable and under the scope of the journal. It is in this part where the editor will decide if the paper could meet the strict guidelines of the research journal. If a submission passes this phase with flying colors, the paper will go onto the peer review process. A general rule of thumb is 7-10 days for these two checks to be completed.

After the technical and editorial checks comes peer review. Peer review, depending on the editorial structure of the research journal, is where two or more subject matter experts evaluate manuscripts for publication. Typically the roles and responsibilities of the peer review process include the following:

1. Editor: The editor performs the first review process to make sure the paper is ready for review.

2. Reviewers: The reviewers provide feedback with editorial suggestions, notes on manuscript strengths and weaknesses, and other comments to the research journal editor. This can take up to two weeks to receive this feedback.

3. Editorial Staff: The staff works on the manuscript to make sure that the workflow is adhering to an acceptable timeframe and the strict guidelines of the journal. Any questions regarding the manuscript are handled by the journal staff.

After feedback is gathered from the reviewer, it is up to the editor to decide whether or not the manuscript will be rejected, revised and resubmitted, or accepted into the research journal. This process can take several weeks.

A few more rounds of technical editing and peer review happens again to ensure all journal requirements are met and to tie up any loose ends on the editing side. The second go-round of revisions and review normally go quicker that the first time, unless major concerns pop up. As the final step, the research journal staff will make a decision of acceptance, moving from editorial review over to production. The submission is then copyedited and published formally into the research journal. 

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