Q: What does a status change from Awaiting AE Recommendation back to Awaiting Referee Scores mean for a major revision manuscript?
My paper underwent a revision. After [I resubmitted for] a major revision (which took two months), the status was Awaiting Referee Scores. Last week, the status changed to Awaiting AE Recommendation. However, today, it changed back to Awaiting Referee Scores. As per my understanding, the status should be Awaiting EIC Decision. So, why has it returned to the referee(s) after last week's status?
It’s great that you are keeping such a close eye on your manuscript status updates and also seem to have a knowledge of status updates in general. You are no doubt eager to see your manuscript progress smoothly in the journal workflow and hopefully also to hear of a positive outcome.
Coming to your query, it could mean either of two things. It could be that not all the reviewer’s final comments have come in. Perhaps one or more are pending. The AE may have thought that all had come in, but may have later seen that that’s not the case, and so, may have modified the status. The other possibility is that the AE may have sent it to a new reviewer for a different perspective. This does happen at times. We think you should wait for a few days to know which of these two scenarios is the case. If it takes longer though, feel free to write to the editor to know more.
For further insights into updates such as this, you may find it useful to go through this previous query by another researcher: What does a change from "Awaiting editorial decision" to "Awaiting reviewer scores" mean?
Hope that helps. All the best for the next update on your manuscript!