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What happens to my paper once it’s been submitted?

Authors | Early career researchers
What happens to my paper once it’s been submitted?

Catherine Farrell, Operations Manager at Hindawi takes us through the process from submission to final decision.


Whether it's your first or tenth time submitting a paper, what happens after you press submit can be a bit of a mystery, we want to change that.

To help you better understand the behind-the-scenes work of taking your research through from submission to publication, our operations manager Catherine Farrell gave us this step-by-step guide.

What happens during submission to final decision?

Once authors complete our easy, format-free submission process, their paper will undergo some initial screening checks to ensure that it’s suitable for the journal. It will then be assigned to an editor, who will be in charge of coordinating the peer review process. It’s important that only relevant editors are assigned to each paper, and we ensure this happens via our new Editor Suggestion Tool – the tool sorts the Editorial Board from most to least relevant based on a set of keywords, and the keywords are displayed next to each Academic Editor’s name so that our Chief, Associate and Section Editors can easily see who has applicable expertise.

We have also recently introduced the ‘Edit Expertise’ function for our Editors, whereby they can manually edit their keywords within their profiles, adding and removing keywords as they see fit. Since the launch of this feature, we’ve seen our manuscript queues and turnaround times decrease – manuscripts are rapidly assigned to Editors who are engaged with the subject matter and proficient in the given field.

How do we find reviewers?

Our peer review system generates a list of ‘Reviewer Suggestions’ which feed directly from the Web of Science Reviewer Locator. This has many benefits: it provides our editors with a ready-made pool of relevant reviewers, it reduces editors’ administrative workload, and it decreases the time taken to find and invite reviewers. In addition, the reviewers coming from the tool are active and available, so the overall peer review time is shortened, getting publications out faster and improving the experience for our authors as a result. Our Editors also have the option to invite reviewers manually, should they have specific reviewers in mind who would be appropriate for the paper.

Once our reviewers have submitted their reports, the editor will make a decision and send it out to the authors. The authors will be asked to either make major or minor revisions, depending on the reviewer comments. Once the revisions have been made, authors just need to upload their new manuscript file and a response to reviewers. The paper will then go back to the editor for another round of review.

How do we ensure editorial rigor?

Publication ethics are of great importance at Hindawi, we are a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and aim to adhere to their guidelines and core practices. During our editorial screening process, every paper is checked for plagiarism, duplicate submissions, citation manipulation, and any conflicts of interest. If we become aware of any breaches of conduct, the manuscript will be rejected before reaching the peer review stage.

As well as this, we ask our editors and reviewers to decline their involvement in a submission if there is any reason they feel they cannot be objective, including recent collaborations with authors, a shared affiliation or a financial interest.

As a safety net, we also have stringent quality checks in place for each accepted manuscript, where we analyse the whole peer review cycle, all files and email communications to ensure that the paper is suitable for publication.

Acceptance to publication

Once a paper has been accepted, it will be copyedited by a dedicated team before galley proofs are sent to the authors. Using our Online Proofing System, authors can directly edit or make suggestions to the proofs until they are satisfied with the final product.

In the final stages, every paper will undergo a set of final checks by an experienced Production Editor prior to publication. They’ll look at the formatting of the paper, figure citations and equations, and check the HTML to ensure that everything is correct. Anything amiss will be sent back to the production team until the paper is completely ready for publication.

Once the paper has been published on our website, all authors will be notified via email so they can start to share and promote it.The acceptance to publication times for our journals are outlined on each journal metrics page.

This is what happens to a paper once it’s been submitted. We aim to keep the overall process as simple as possible while ensuring all quality checks are performed thoroughly. Editors’ and reviewers’ contribution is crucial to moving a paper forward from one workflow to the next and ensuring timely publication.

It’s therefore vital to understand what they may be looking out for in your manuscript.

 

Looking for further reading? My colleague Abada Begum, Editorial Operations Manager at Hindawi, elaborates on who our editors and reviewers are and the key elements that they focus on when examining a manuscript.

Article of the Year Award: Outstanding research contributions of 2020, as selected by our Chief Editors. Read the winning articles.