A Training Resource of the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors and Aries Systems

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1 Best Practices for the Editorial Office A Training Resource of the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors and Aries Systems

2 2010 by Aries and the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors page 2 of 6 How to improve the quality of reviews: Matching manuscripts and reviewers In this article you will learn about: The importance of an effective reviewer-selection process Implementing a search-term process for selecting reviewers Assessing your process to ensure efficiency Peer-reviewed journals rely on their reviewers to assess the quality of submitted manuscripts, using the reviewers expertise to determine if the manuscript will contribute something substantive to the existing literature of the field or, conversely, if the manuscript lacks originality, displays weak methodology or, in rare cases, shows evidence of research or publication misconduct. Editors place a substantial portion of responsibility for the quality of their journals in these (usually) volunteers hands, asking them to help identify the most appropriate submissions for publication. The editorial office can facilitate better reviews by evaluating and streamlining the peer-review process, which includes carefully considering how manuscripts are matched with reviewers. Reviewer selection is one of the most important aspects of the peer-review process, arguably the most critical (Hames, 2007). To start, journals need reviewers with a range of specialties. Journal editors should be well connected in their fields and able to identify and recruit these individuals. Quality reviewers are the key to quality reviews. Next, an editor s personal knowledge about the expertise of specific reviewers is invaluable to matching a manuscript with the most qualified reviewers. However, such personal knowledge is not exhaustive and may be susceptible to bias, intentional or otherwise. For many journals, the editor cannot personally know the expertise of each reviewer or know reviewers with the expertise needed for each manuscript. Therefore, a well-established process for matching reviewers and manuscripts based on search terms is one method for complementing an editor s personal knowledge. This is easily done in an online system. Three steps are needed to implement a search-term process for matching manuscripts and reviewers. 1. The editorial office staff should compile a comprehensive list of the relevant search terms for the journal s specialty focus and review it often. (See Roberts, 2008, March, for a description of the difference between keywords and search terms.) Ask reviewers to choose the search terms that describe their expertise carefully and thoroughly (too many, and they may not really be experts in that field, too few and they will not be considered for some manuscripts for which they are a good match [Roberts, 2008, March]). 2. The editorial office staff should ensure that reviewers are choosing search terms from the preselected list and adding them to their accounts in the online system. Staff should also encourage reviewers to update their selections on a regular basis (e.g., at the beginning of each calendar year) and send a system-wide reminder annually. 3. The editorial office staff should ensure this same list is maintained for manuscript submissions so authors choose search terms for their manuscripts that match those on the reviewers list. The beauty of an online system is that it can be used to prepare the list of reviewers who match the manuscript s search terms very quickly. Remember, however, that human specialist knowledge (Hames, 2007) is also important. Those responsible for inviting reviewers from the list of matching search terms must pay attention to important details such as (a) when each reviewer last reviewed, so as not to overload them, (b) how each reviewer performs (e.g., timeliness, quality of reviews; Roberts, 2008, June), (c) the existence of conflicts/competing interests, and (d) ensuring the reviewer is in actuality a good match for

3 2010 by Aries the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors Page 3 of 6 the manuscript content (e.g., through PubMed search or personal experience). Finally, reassess your process for matching reviewers and manuscripts annually. Find out what other journals are doing and incorporate their ideas in your process. Do you send a thank-you note to your reviewers? Is it automated or personalized? Personalized, positive feedback can be very effective in promoting desired behavior/results. Do you send reviewers a copy of the decision letter? Do you allow reviewers to see each other s comments? Doing so can be educational for new reviewers and motivating for lazy reviewers. This can be done without revealing the reviewers identifying information. Are your instructions to reviewers clearly written and up-to-date? Do they include information about creating an account and submitting a review in the system, the editor s expectations for the review, and reminders about ethical issues? Strong reviewers and an efficient review process lead to quality reviews, which, in turn, lead to quality publications which will increase the quality and raise the reputation of a journal. A well-established review process is the responsibility of the editorial office staff, and the maintenance and improvement of that process is a goal to work toward constantly. References Hames, I. (2007). Peer review and manuscript management in scientific journals: Guidelines for good practice. Malden, MA. Blackwell Publishing. Roberts, J. (2008, March). Tips & Tricks for Editorial Office Best Practice [column]. How to improve the quality of reviews: Matching manuscripts and reviewers. EON, 13-15, 23. Roberts, J. (2008, June). Tips & Tricks for Editorial Office Best Practice [column]. Efforts to improve the quality of reviews part I: rating, rewarding, and educating reviewers. EON, How to Improve the Quality of Reviews using Editorial Manager Table of Contents Overview...3 Send Reminders to Users to Update Keywords and Classifications...3 Select Classifications...4 Search for Reviewers using Classifications or Keywords...4 Reviewer Recruitment...5 Create Automatic Thank-You Message for Reviewers...5 Send Reviewers a Copy of the Decision Letter...6 Overview One of the greatest challenges facing peer review publications is the need to find and manage peer reviewers. In Editorial Manager (EM), reviewer information is conveniently retrieved from a database using numerous query options including: areas of expertise, past performance, address, etc. Reviewers are invited by and can respond immediately by clicking on secure deep links. Integrated searches with databases such as Google Scholar, Scopus and PubMed make it easy to identify new reviewers and quickly add them to the database. Editors can also suggest reviewers for subsequent invitation by publication staff. Editorial Manager includes comprehensive reviewer reminder functionality, and alternate reviewers can be automatically promoted by the system, thereby saving editorial office time. Send Reminders to Users to Update Keywords and Classifications User areas of expertise may change from time to time, but users may not think to update their personal information in EM. For this reason, publications may send letters using a merge field, %UPDATE_CLAS- SIFICATIONS_KEYWORDS_DEEP_LINK%. When this merge field is included in a letter, it is replaced with a deep link for the recipient of the letter. Clicking the deep link brings the user directly to a page where they may update their Personal Keywords and Classifications. Copyright 2010, International Society of Managing and Technical Editors Disclaimer: Please note that the International Society for Managing and Technical Editors is only responsible for the content in the first portion of the Best Practices Newsletter and that our participation in the project does not reflect an endorsement of a particular system.

4 2010 by Aries and the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors page 4 of 6 Users with proper permission may also set up Batch , which can be sent to an entire Role Group (all Reviewers), or specific Roles (Statistical Reviewers). This is an opportunity for a message to be sent out periodically reminding users to make sure their Classifications and Keywords are up to date. Select Classifications Authors are able to select classifications for defining the subject area of their paper from a predefined list of keywords, index terms, or subject areas created by the publication. At any point, Editors with permission may modify the list of Classifications selected by the Author, for example if they feel there are better matches. Partial Folder display; Classifications page may be accessed by an Editor from many folders where the submission displays: When Search by Classification Matches is selected the Editor can search for Reviewers based on matches between the Manuscript Classifications and Reviewers Personal Classifications. The Editor is delivered to a page that lists all Classifications associated with the manuscript and the number of Reviewers associated with each Classification. When Search for Reviewers is selected from the search mode drop-down box the Editor is delivered to a search interface. The Editor may search for Reviewers using criteria of Personal Classifications or Personal Keywords. In addition to these search methods, Editors have the ability to set up further search criteria referred to as Suggest Reviewer. The Suggest Reviewer feature in EM allows an Editor to ask the system to suggest qualified Reviewers based on a predetermined set of criteria defined on a My Suggest Reviewer Preferences page. There are two parts to configuring the My Suggest Reviewer Preferences page: Identify what kind of people should be excluded from the list of possible Reviewers Top portion of the My Suggest Reviewer Preferences page: Search for Reviewers using Classifications or Keywords When inviting a Reviewer in EM, Editors may use the Classifications or Keywords to search for Reviewers with matching areas of expertise.

5 2010 by Aries the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors Page 5 of 6 Identify how the people in the list of possible Reviewers are sorted and displayed Partial page display People Information page: Bottom portion of the My Suggest Reviewer Preferences page: After executing the search for Reviewers, the results return in a grid, allowing the Editor to see any Classification matches as well as key Reviewer Statistics such as number or completed reviews, number of outstanding reviews, etc. Editors may then Invite the Reviewer, select them as an Alternate, or Propose this Reviewer for another Editor to invite. Partial page display; Reviewer results: Reviewer Recruitment If an Editor cannot find a potential Reviewer in the database, or if the Editor knows that a particular person is not currently registered on the EM site, the Editor can Proxy Register that person. The Editor can: register a person, even if he has limited contact information; send a custom letter or no letter to the registrant; assign a Reviewer role; and immediately invite the registrant to review the submission. This can all be done without leaving the Select Reviewer interface. Partial view of Reviewer Selection page; Editor may Register a New Reviewer, or Request an Unregistered Reviewer: If the Editor clicks on the Reviewer s name, a popup window opens presenting the Editors with even more detail about the Reviewer and their statistics. This page is divided into sections of information, such as Personal Classifications, current Review statistics, historical invitation and performance statistics, a Recommendation Summary, and a detailed list of all submissions that the user has reviewed. Create Automatic Thank-You Message for Reviewers EM can be configured with a number of pre-selected letters to be sent to recipients at specific steps in the Editorial process. One of these steps, Review Assignment Completed, allows the publication to configure letters to automatically be sent to the Reviewer to thank them for submitting the Review.

6 2010 by Aries and the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors page 6 of 6 Send Reviewers a Copy of the Decision Letter In addition to a Thank You letter at the time a review is submitted, a Reviewer can be sent a custom letter when a Decision Letter is sent to the Author. During the Notify Author Step, the Editor has the option to send out a Reviewer Notification to the Reviewer(s) of that submission. After the Author Notification letter is sent, the Editor is given the option to customize each Reviewer letter before sending those letters. The Author Notification Letter ( Decision Letter) can be inserted into the Reviewer Notification Letter using a merge field that pulls in a blinded or unblinded version of the decision letter, depending on the permission of the Reviewer recipient. Copyright 2010, Aries Systems Corporation This document is the confidential and proprietary information of Aries Systems Corporation, and may not be disseminated or copied without the express written permission of Aries Systems Corporation. The information contained in this document is tentative, and is provided solely for planning purposes of the recipient. The features described for this software release are likely to change before the release design and content are finalized. Aries Systems Corporation assumes no liability or responsibility for decisions made by third parties based upon the contents of this document, and shall in no way be bound to performance therefore.

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