JPR has an Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editors, an Editorial Board and a Managing Editor in the virtual Editorial Office. Each has a role in manuscript consideration and review and a summary of the review process is provided here.
Upon submission through Manuscript Central each manuscript is logged by the Editorial Office and given a manuscript reference number (e.g., JPR-2011-XXX). The Managing Editor checks the form and format, particularly the figures, tables and reference style. They then assign the manuscript to the Editor-in-Chief.
The Editor-in-Chief then considers if the manuscript is suitable in form and content for JPR, particularly whether it fits with the journal Scope Statement. The cover letter is important at this stage of the process as it is an opportunity for the author to emphasise the value and significance of the work. If the content is judged to be inappropriate for the journal it is rejected without review; otherwise it is then assigned to one of the Associate Editors. Problems with use of English language will only preclude further consideration at this stage if the standard is such that the manuscript could not be understood and fairly evaluated by a reviewer.
The manuscript, together with the author’s cover letter, is then assigned to the appropriate Associate Editor. The Associate Editor considers the paper and can recommend to the Editor-in-Chief that it be rejected without external review. (Between the Editor-in-Chief and the Associate Editors, about 25-30% of submitted papers are rejected without review.) If the Associate Editor considers the manuscript suitable for peer review, he/she selects appropriate specialist reviewers. These may be selected from the Editorial Board, author nominated reviewers or other scientists with appropriate expertise. Authors are able to identify non-preferred reviewers, but there is no guarantee that these will not be approached. Currently about 20% of reviews are carried out by members of the Editorial Board and a comparable proportion by author nominated reviewers. A full list of reviewers for the preceding year is published at the end of the year, or in an early issue the following year.
Reviews are sought from two or more reviewers. Additional reviews, or the advice of another Associate Editor, may be sought in cases where the initial reviews are conflicting. To facilitate a timely review process reviewers are asked to return their reviews within three weeks. Normally the interval from submission to first decision is in the order of 3--5 weeks. To try to avoid overloading reviewers with requests JPR maintains a comprehensive database of past reviewer history, which is consulted by the Associate Editors. In addition to providing a written review, reviewers are asked to categorise manuscripts as, “Excellent original/ important contribution: a significant advance; Above average: a worthwhile contribution; Competent but limited new insight; Very specialized; or Mediocre/ poor science”.
Once the required number of reviews is received, based on the reviews and the Associate Editor's own assessment of the manuscript, he/she makes a recommendation, which is forwarded to the Editor-in-Chief. The EIC then, following the advice of the Associate Editors together with the reviews, communicates an initial decision to the author(s). This can be, in unusual cases, “Accept”. Otherwise the decision will be either “Minor Revision”, “Major Revision” or “Reject”. The reviews are copied verbatim with the decision letter, but reviewers may also provide “Confidential comments to the Editor”, which are taken into account in making the decision. For “Minor Revisions” authors are asked to return their revised manuscript within 6 weeks; for “Major Revisions” within 12 weeks. Normally, for papers that are rejected, JPR will not consider resubmission of similar or related material. In exceptional circumstances the Associate Editor may advise that the manuscript has sufficient merit to be considered as a new submission after extensive additional work.
It is at this stage, for papers where the English language needs attention, that authors may be asked to have the English language carefully checked by a native English speaker. While not directly endorsed by JPR, the Editorial Office can advise on scientific English language services that have expert knowledge of plankton papers. As an international journal, JPR recognises the special challenges of non-English speaking authors, but at the same time requires that final versions of manuscripts be of an appropriate standard for publication.
Reviewers are thanked, informed of the decision, and the reviews that form the basis are shared anonymously between the reviewers.
To facilitate timely publication, if a revision is not returned within the specified period, the Editorial Office will contact the authors asking whether they intend to submit a revision. If there are extenuating circumstances and extension may be granted. Otherwise the paper is considered withdrawn and any future version of the manuscript that is received is treated as a new submission.
Revised manuscripts are forwarded to the appropriate Associate Editor, who decides whether the authors have responded adequately to comments and suggestions from the first round of review. In most cases, particularly for “Major Revisions”, revised manuscripts are sent for re-review to one or both of the original reviewers. Based on his/her assessment of the manuscript and any re-reviews, the Associate Editor then makes a recommendation on the paper. This may either be for acceptance, rejection, or a further round of revision.
Once a final recommendation on a paper is received the Editor-in-Chief writes to the author with the final decision. The authors are asked if they would like to submit appropriate high-resolution images for consideration for the journal front cover. In the case of papers that are accepted, the EIC then reads through them and carries out a light “scientific edit” where appropriate. They are then checked by the Editorial Office and then transmitted to JPR Production.
A copy-editor at OUP lightly edits the manuscript to ensure that the grammar is correct and that it conforms to the JPR style sheet. The copy editor also checks that 1) all literature references in the text appear in the list of references and vice-versa, 2) figures and tables are cited in the proper order in the text. The manuscript is then typeset and galley proofs are sent to the author. Authors receive proofs as an Adobe PDF file attachment. From the time that the Editorial Office sends the manuscript to JPR Production to the time that authors receive proofs is normally under 4 weeks. Authors are asked to check their proofs carefully and respond to any specific “Author Queries”. Proofs should be returned within 2 or 3 days or publication will be delayed. Errors generated by the author cannot be corrected at a later stage, so careful checking of proofs is important.
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