To help authors to understand the editorial process, which has developed over the years, and which we intend to continue improving, this document makes explicit our policies and procedures.
As soon as we receive your paper in our on-line submission system, the details are recorded in our database and a unique reference number is allocated. You can see this in your Author Centre in Manuscript Central. On receipt, the editorial office will check that the paper is appropriate for this journal in terms of word count, scope and research focus. Some papers will be rejected at this initial stage without being refereed if they do not pass these initial tests.
We will select appropriate referees who will be familiar with your topic. We aim to secure three referees’ reports. But given the large proportion of referees who decline the invitation, or simply fail to respond, we generally invite more than we need, to save time waiting for non-responders. If we receive three reports, and collectively they are equivocal, we may seek more to get a clear picture. For these reasons, it is not too surprising if we end up with more than four or more reports.
The invitation to a referee contains only the title and abstract of the paper. If a referee does not acknowledge our invitation within a week, we will cancel the request to review and select a replacement. Once a referee accepts the invitation, he or she will be able to download the automatically generated PDF of the full paper. Referees are asked to complete the task within two weeks. A reminder that the review is due is sent one week before the due date, and if the review is not received by the due date, a further reminder is sent. Overdue reminders are sent after 7 and 14 days beyond the due date, and if a referee still fails to respond, we cancel the invitation and invite a replacement. Therefore, a non-responder can delay progress of the paper by 4-5 weeks.
The editor will decide whether to accept or reject your paper, based on the advice from the referees. Referees do not decide the fate of papers; rather, they provide advice and suggestions. Since individual referees are being asked to volunteer personal impressions, it is unlikely that their views will all match. The most compelling view is not necessarily the majority view, but the strength of the argument advanced by the referee, or by the author in his or her response. If your paper requires revision, the editor will tell you whether the changes needed are minor or major. When a paper is revised and returned to us, minor changes will be checked by the editor, major by the same referees that reviewed the earlier version. In cases of major revision, the paper may require further changes after the referees have seen it and may still be rejected at this point.
The decision on your paper will be taken within a week of our receipt of sufficient reviews. This decision will be transmitted to you immediately. If your paper is rejected, you will be told why. At least half of all papers submitted are ultimately rejected.
When you are invited to respond to the referees by revising your paper, we ask you to let us know the date by which we can expect your response. Thus, you decide how long you need, and no reminders will be sent to you until the date you have chosen has passed. If we do not hear from you, and in the case of minor changes, we will assume that one month is enough. Then reminders will be sent to you, followed by a cancellation if we have heard nothing. If you receive a letter cancelling our request to revise, it means that the status of your paper has been changed from ‘under revision’ to ‘withdrawn’ and the file is closed. In this case we will not initiate any further communication with you, but we will hold on to the file for twelve months before deleting it.
After acceptance, the paper is forwarded to the publishers and it enters the production process, which is managed from the publisher’s office (Taylor & Francis). The amount of time it takes between acceptance and publication depends on the queue of papers awaiting publication, but is a matter of months, rather than weeks. During this time, papers are copy-edited, checked with authors and editors, type-set, posted on the website, printed, bound and distributed. After copy-editing, the publishers will send a galley proof (usually by e-mail) to the authors to check that the text and figures have been prepared for publication properly. The position in the queue is determined by the date the manuscript was first submitted, not the date of acceptance. Each issue of the journal is made up two months before it appears in print, and papers are chosen primarily by their position in the queue, but with a view to achieving some kind of spread between topics, regions and institutions.
We will continue striving to maintain the highest editorial standards and seek to publish the best research in our field.
- What editors look for in referee reports (cmeforum.wordpress.com)
- Why does it take so long to get my paper refereed? (cmeforum.wordpress.com)
- How to write an informative and helpful covering letter (cmeforum.wordpress.com)