Q: What are the specific things a journal editor looks for during the review process?
Papers to journals are typically screened in two stages. The first, a preliminary check,
is to see whether the paper deserves to be sent for reviewing. This check, by the journal’s editors, is aimed not so much at the paper’s substance and its science – which is for reviewers who are experts in the topic of the paper – as its suitability for the journal. The editor wants to know whether the paper fits the journal’s policy and scope and is of suitable length, whether it is of potential interest to the journal’s readers, whether the writing is reasonably clear and correct, and whether it conforms to the journal’s instructions to authors. Papers that fail these tests are ‘desk rejected’, that is, rejected without review; papers that pass these tests are sent out for reviewing to two or more reviewers (referees).
Once the editor receives the referees’ reports, the editor reads them to see whether they are in broad agreement; whether they represent a fair, unbiased, and critical assessment; and whether they are in a form suitable to be conveyed to the author.
The final stage is when the editor looks at the revised version of the paper (if the editor has asked the author to revise and resubmit the paper after addressing the comments raised by reviewers) to see whether the revised version addresses those concerns and whether the authors have adequately justified their reasons for not accepting some of the suggestions made by the reviewers.
This is broadly what the editor looks at. The reviewers have their own checklist and copy editors and product people have theirs.
Hope that helps. For greater insights into what scientific journal editors look for in a submission, you may go through these resources:
- A journal editor's insight into what happens post manuscript submission
- Peer review process and editorial decision making at journals
- What makes a great submission package?
If you are planning a submission yourself, do keep the above in mind. And if you need editing support for your manuscript, you may of course check out our range of author support services: Editage Editing Services
All the best!