Q: What are the indicators of acceptance in highly trusted journals, and what does 'Awaiting reviewer scores' mean?

Detailed Question -

I have two questions.

  1. What are the indicators of acceptance of scientific papers in highly trusted journals (Q1-4)?
  2. Could you also tell me what does 'Awaiting reviewer scores' mean?
1 Answer to this question

Hello Rasha – Welcome to the forum!

Straight off, let’s take your second question first as that is less nuanced.

Meaning of ‘Awaiting reviewer scores’

This status is known by different names with different journals, including ‘Under review’ and ‘Awaiting technical scores.’ What this means is that your manuscript has been sent for peer review and the peer review comments/opinions are presently awaited. Based on the pending reviews, the associate editor (AE) will make a decision on your manuscript, such as to ask you to revise and resubmit (for a minor or major revision) or to reject the manuscript. In case of a rejection decision, note that the AE can only make the initial decision and communicate this to the Editor-in-Chief (EiC). It is the EiC who makes the final decision on your manuscript. But there seems to be some time for that. In case there’s no update on the status for a while, you may write to the editor about an update.

For more information on this status, you may refer to the following resources:

Indicators of acceptance in highly trusted journals

As indicated at the beginning, there are several aspects to consider for a topic such as this. Here’s what we mean.

  • Q1-4: Note that the entire range (from 1 to 4) does not represent ‘highly trusted,’ or more appropriately, ‘high-quality’ journals. The top 25% journals come in Q1, the next 25% in Q2, and so on. Q1 journals, understandably, are the most sought-after, Q2 journals less, and so on. For a better understanding of the quartile concept, you may refer to this resource: How to understand journal rankings by quartile
  • Trust/Quality: Apart from the quartiles, you also need to know about predatory or bogus journals (in case you don’t). The rise of open access (OA) and the perennial ‘pressure to publish’ have led to a boom in journals, with not all being of great quality or trustable. Before submitting, you need to ensure the journal is an authentic one (compared with a fraud one). Here’s a checklist to help you do so: 10 Point checklist to identify predatory publishers
  • Parameters of acceptance: The basic or standard criteria determining acceptance are, on the author’s side, the novelty of the study and the quality of the paper (the writing – how you have presented your research), and on the journal’s side, a match with their focus/scope and adherence to their submission guidelines. Beyond these ‘hygiene factors,’ actual acceptance depends on many factors. Journals may accept, or reject, manuscripts for several reasons beyond the basic, such as number of submissions and space. To know more, you may go through this resource: Most common reasons for journal rejection
  • Indicators/Interpreters of acceptance: Interpreting journal acceptance rates is not always an easy thing. A particular journal may have a high acceptance rate not because it rejects a greater quantum of manuscripts but because it receives a greater quantum of manuscripts. The rate may also depend on the nature of the journal. A very focused journal (in a niche field) may have a greater rate because the submissions are very focused and also less in number. On the other hand, a multidisciplinary journal may have a higher rejection rate. On the same lines, new journals have a higher acceptance rate as do journals in new and emerging fields. For more insights into acceptance rates, you may refer to this resource: How to interpret journal acceptance rates
  • Knowledge of journals: The best way to understand acceptance, especially of your target journals, would be to go to a ranking repository such as Scimago, sort the journals by quartile (as done here) shortlist a few journals of interest, and then visit their site (for more information about the journal) and also go through a few articles in each journal. This is also a more practical, grounded way of approaching the matter of acceptance. And of course, much knowledge will also come from actual experience. :-)

Finally, you should know that we offer a journal selection service that identifies 3-5 journals based on your specifications, along with providing a list of pros and cons for submitting to each. You may learn more about the service here: Editage Journal Selection

Hope that helps. All the best for your submission, which will hopefully result in an acceptance! :-)