Procedures and Instructions for Editors
Although the identity of the Editor is known to the authors, confidentiality of peer reviewers is an established tradition in the JON review process and under no circumstances are the names of reviewers to be given to authors or other reviewers. Do not inadvertently reveal identities in e-mail address or ‘cc’ lines, for example. Because most manuscripts will be handled as electronic files, reviewers often will use the ‘Track Changes’ feature of MS Word to “mark” the manuscript. Reviewer instructions request that reviewers ensure that this feature is configured so as not to reveal their identities; any revisions that do show identity should not be returned to the author(s).
Receipt and Transmission to Editors: The Editor-in-Chief (EiC) receives all manuscripts, ideally in electronic format. In most instances, manuscripts submitted as hard copy will be scanned by the EiC and electronic files generated for review purposes. The EiC checks that an author is an active SON member (important only for assessing page charges), logs the receipt date and sends an acknowledgment-of-receipt to the contact author, typically by e-mail. Each manuscript is assigned a consecutive number. The EiC reads each manuscript and chooses an Editor based on the general topic. Each manuscript also receives a light technical edit by the EiC (or editorial assistant) and minor corrections are made. The lightly edited manuscript will be e-mailed to the chosen Editor who will select two external reviewers. If more extensive corrections are required (e.g., to bring the manuscript into JON style), or if it appears that the EiC’s corrections might alter the intent of the author, marked manuscripts (typically using ‘Track Changes’) may be returned to the author for revision.
Receipt by Editors: Upon receipt of a manuscript from the EiC, the Editor should read the manuscript sufficiently thoroughly to select two suitable reviewers. In most instances, this read is expected to be fairly quick, as at this point Editors are not attempting to judge the work presented in the manuscript. If Editors feel that manuscripts are far outside their area of expertise, they should contact the EiC. The chosen reviewers should be contacted by e-mail or telephone and asked if they will review the manuscript within 2 to 3 weeks before actually sending them the manuscript. Initial delays in processing manuscripts come from difficulties in identifying willing reviewers. Once reviewers have accepted, Editors should e-mail the manuscript (including Figure files) to them and point them to the Style Guide section For Reviewers which has the Instructions for Reviewers and the Review Form. The identity of reviewers must remain a closely guarded secret.
If after 3 weeks the Editor has not received a review, prompt the reviewer by e-mail or telephone to send in their reviews. If the reviewer does not respond to this prompt, then the manuscript should be immediately forwarded to a new reviewer chosen by the Editor. If a reviewer has taken an inordinately long time (more than 6 weeks), then the Editor can serve as the second reviewer, but this procedure should be kept to a minimum. Editors should keep a complete list of reviewers used and keep a log of the performance and timeliness of the selected reviewers. Editors should not overburden particular reviewers, especially those who are exceptionally efficient.
Receipt and Evaluation of Reviewed Manuscripts by Editor: As reviews are received, the Editor should immediately acknowledge the reviewed manuscript and thank the reviewer. Once both reviews have been received, the Editor now carefully reads the manuscript and evaluates it in light of the comments by the reviewers. Once a decision has been made, the Editor sends a copy of the Editor???s letter to the author and anonymous versions of both reviews to each of the reviewers, and they are again thanked.
Four scenarios are possible with respect to manuscript evaluation:
Both Reviewers Recommend Acceptance, the Editor Agrees: The manuscript is accepted and appropriately edited.
Both Reviewers Recommend Rejection: The Editor must reject the manuscript. There are two forms of rejection: one in which we never want to see the manuscript again because it has major flaws, and the other in which the manuscript has flaws that can be rectified. In the latter case, if the author can make appropriate corrections, the manuscript should be resubmitted as a new submission.
One Reviewer Recommends Rejection, one Acceptance: The Editor has two options. The Editor can accept or reject based upon individual judgment, or the Editor can send it to a third reviewer for further evaluation. Sending the manuscript to a third reviewer creates a plurality for acceptance or rejection; however, the production time of the manuscript is usually significantly delayed. The Editor may choose to explain to the third reviewer the status of the manuscript in question and send unsigned copies of the first two reviews. Alternatively, there may be advantages in seeking a review where the third reviewers have no knowledge of the reasons for rejection or acceptance, or indeed even that they are third reviewers. Editors must use their judgment on this matter.
Both Reviewers Recommend Acceptance, the Editor Disagrees: In this situation the Editor should discuss the reasons for rejection with the EiC. If there is not agreement about acceptance, it may be appropriate to submit the manuscript for review to a new set of peer reviewers. Again, this situation should be kept to a minimum because of the delay it causes.
Processing Rejected Manuscripts: The Editor composes a cover letter to the authors stating that the manuscript is not acceptable for publication in JON and briefly lists the reasons for this decision. The cover letter should be polite and preferably not include the word “reject.” It includes a statement of appreciation for the work represented by the manuscript and encourages future submission of the author’s work to JON. However, in choosing words of “praise,” be very careful not to give false hope to authors. Form letters (the EiC can provide an example, if needed) can be used for this purpose, although in most cases the actual communication will be by e-mail. The Editor sends anonymous copies of the reviews and the cover letter to the contact author (plus, in the rare case of a paper submission, the hard copy of the manuscript). The Editor also notifies, by e-mail, the EiC of the manuscript status; it is not necessary to include the reviews or copy of the cover letter.
Processing Accepted Manuscripts: Editors share the responsibility of thoroughly editing all accepted (or conditionally accepted) manuscripts. Manuscripts must conform to the established JON Style and Format Guidelines, and Editors are encouraged to regularly consult the on-line Style Guide. Incorrect details must be corrected. Editors must carefully consider notations, comments, questions, deletions, and other suggestions recommended by reviewers. Editors should thoughtfully add their own recommended changes to manuscripts and incorporate everything into the manuscript. Most typically, this will be done using the ‘Track Changes’ feature of MS Word, but it also may be done legibly on a hard copy; it is JON tradition that authors should not see red ink. Editing is important because it will have a great impact upon the quality of publications and should be the most time-consuming action of an editor. Editors should not attempt to rewrite manuscripts in accordance with their own style; however, changes should be made to reduce wordiness or the use of passive voice and to improve clarity. Table style and figure quality and appropriateness are two areas in particular that often must be addressed. Check the Literature Cited section to see that all citations are properly cited, alphabetized, and referenced in the text.
Return of Edited Copy to Contact Author: The Editor sends the edited manuscript copy and, if reviewers have made comments on the manuscript, those copies as well, plus the Reviewer Forms and a cover letter to the contact author. In most cases, this will be via e-mail. Make certain the Reviewer Forms are anonymous when returned to the contact author. The cover letter usually states that the manuscript has been accepted, but it also usually includes statements of acceptance provided certain problems have been addressed, e.g., “I am pleased to inform you that the manuscript is acceptable for publication in the Journal of Nematology provided that appropriate revisions are included.” The cover letter should include specific changes, suggestions, deletions, reinforcement (or downplaying) of points raised by the reviewers, and other recommendations of the Editor. Leave nothing to chance in the cover letter returned to the contact author. Authors should be specifically instructed as to which review points authors are required to address (i.e., to either fix the manuscript accordingly or else successfully rebut the comment), which points can be addressed at the authors’ option and which points raised by the reviewers should not be addressed. The Editor’s comments should be completely fair. The last instructional line of the cover letter requests that authors return revised manuscripts, plus the original edited hard copy (if applicable) to the Editor. If the figures submitted for review were not of sufficient quality or format for publication or were in the incorrect file format for the press (see Figures and Printer’s Guidelines for Digital Art), request that suitable files be sent. It is appropriate to compliment the research and include some friendly comments to the contact author.
The Editor also sends copies of the cover letter and anonymous copies of all review forms to the reviewers, so that individual reviewers are aware of how their reviews compare. This procedure improves the peer review process. In a cover letter, the Editor thanks the reviewers and reminds them of confidentiality. Under no circumstances are the names of reviewers to be given to authors or other reviewers. If a reviewer signs the author copy of the review sheet, then remove the signature. If necessary, Editors should also send specific comments to the reviewers about their reviews, tempering criticism with statements of thanks and appreciation. The Editor also must serve as the gatekeeper for the information received by the authors. In rare instances where a reviewer has used inappropriate language, the Editor should request that the reviewer send a revised review with offensive language removed.
Receipt of Revised Manuscript from Author by Editor: Editors mark a revised hard-copy manuscript “revised” in the upper right-hand corner or add the letters “rev” to the electronic manuscript number. The Editor examines the revision and carefully compares the revised with the edited submission. If the revision still needs additional evaluation, then the Editor may, as an option, send the manuscript to an original or new reviewer and, based on the recommendations of the reviewer, could send the manuscript back to the author for additional revision. However, because of the time required, this option should be kept to a minimum. If an Editor believes that the revisions are not satisfactory, the revised manuscript should be sent back to the author with a cover letter indicating the problems that remain and means for resolving them. Authors are responsible for addressing points raised by reviewers and the Editor, either in the revised manuscript or in the return cover letter to the Editor. If during the process of revision authors blatantly ignore significant, specific points, then the Editor should seek additional revision. Editors should confirm that the figures meet the quality and file format standards of JON.
When Editors find revision satisfactory, they again edit the revision and send the accepted, edited revised copy to the EiC, stating that the manuscript is ready for technical editing and marking for the Printer. Because these revisions are likely to be minor, they can be incorporated into the electronic manuscript. If there is ambiguity, ‘Track Changes’ could be used to reveal the suggested edits. The Editor sends a letter to the contact author, informing the author of the status of the revision and thanking the author for publishing in the Journal of Nematology. Editors should retain all correspondence with authors and reviewers until the manuscript is published in JON.
The EiC reviews the revised manuscripts, makes changes or corrections as needed, and forwards
them to the Technical Editor, who currently is Reenah Schaffer. At this stage, the Technical
Editor may have additional questions about manuscripts, which are generally addressed by the
EiC. In some instances, the manuscript still may have to be returned to the author for
revision. This process may be handled either by the Technical Editor or the EiC as appropriate.
The quality of figures presented by authors is the most frequent cause for additional revision.
The corresponding author of each accepted manuscript is asked to complete a
Page Charge/Copyright Transfer form,
and either fax or scan and e-mail it to the Technical Editor.
The EiC batches manuscripts for an issue, generates a Table of Contents, and sends them to Sheridan Press for composing and printing an issue. At least 12 manuscripts are needed to make an issue. When the page proofs are ready, each corresponding author as well as the Technical Editor and EiC are notified by the Press that the proofs may be viewed at an ftp site. The author must review and correct the proofs within 48 hours of receipt and send them to the Technical Editor as proscribed in the accompanying instructions: Page Proof Corrections. The Technical Editor and EiC evaluate the corrections, add any of their own, and return corrected proofs to the press. Information is collected for the Index, which is compiled for the December issue.
MISCELLANEOUS RESPONSIBILITIES OF EDITORS
In the event of an unusual delay during the review process (e.g., delay in review or vacation by an Editor, EiC, or Technical Editor), the Editor should inform the contact author of the reason for the delay and express appropriate regrets and thanks for patience.
Reminding Authors of Deadlines in Returning Revisions: After a manuscript has been returned to an author for revision the author has 4 months to complete the revisions and return the manuscript to the Editor. Otherwise, the manuscript will be considered as withdrawn. The Editor has the responsibility of informing authors of this policy in the cover letter mailed to the contact author along with the reviews. A reminder of the 4-month deadline should be sent to the contact author approximately 1 month before the expiration date. If the author chooses to return the revised manuscript after the 4-month deadline, the manuscript is to be considered as a new submission. Having noted that, Editors are encouraged to be lenient in this regard as long as the authors have contacted the Editor and the Editor feels that the revised manuscript will be available in the near future.
Return of Abrasive Reviews to Reviewers: Reviewers should provide a polite, professional review. Offensive, abrasive, or otherwise unwarranted remarks are not to be tolerated. As noted, Editors should return all such reviews to reviewers with instructions for removing the offensive language. To speed up production, the Editor has the option of removing the offensive passages and sending the edited review to the contact author. If this is done, the Editor should discuss this with the reviewer with the intent of avoiding it in the future.
Notifying the EiC of Additional Reviewers: As part of the EiC's annual report, and occasionally in JON itself, the EiC thanks all who have served as reviewers during the past year. Therefore, Editors should inform the EiC of the names of all reviewers used in an annual summary.
REVISED November 2006 © D. McK. Bird