Q: Can we make changes in the manuscript after the initial screening?
I guess by ‘initial screening,’ you mean the initial editorial check at the journal. If so, this means that your manuscript is presently undergoing this check. This is the check by the editorial team about basic aspects of the manuscript such as a match with the journal’s scope and adherence to their guidelines. At times, it may even include a basic check for the novelty of the research and the overall quality of the paper. In these cases, it may also involve the associate editor (AE).
If the paper clears this check, the journal will send this for a peer review. If not, it may mean a desk rejection, but even then, the AE will share this consideration with the Editor-in-Chief (EiC), who will make the final call. In some cases, if it’s a big publisher, instead of a rejection, they may ask you to submit to another journal from the same publisher.
As you can see, once you have submitted your manuscript to a journal and they are deciding on it, there are multiple ways forward for the journal. So, while it’s great that you are avidly following the status and noticed a potential issue or change in your manuscript, you should hold on to it for now. If the journal asks you to revise and resubmit, you can include this change at that time. In the unfortunate case that it’s a desk rejection, you could make this change (along with any other changes based on feedback from the journal) and submit to another journal.
Of course, you haven’t mentioned whether this is a big issue and therefore think that this could affect the decision on your manuscript, but for now, you can only let it be and wait for the next decision by the journal to figure out how to proceed. Ideally, it would have been best to ensure there were no issues before submission. But that’s fine. You can always keep this in mind for the next submission. :-)
While on the topic of submission checks, you may find the following resources helpful:
- What are the first things journal editors look at in a submission package?
- What makes a great submission package?
- Learn about final checks and revisions before manuscript submission [Course]
All the best for the next actions!