Q: What does it mean if my paper is currently 'Under Review' after 'Required Reviews Completed'?
My paper has gone through the following phases: 'Decision in Process' on May 14th, 'Decision Rescinded' on May 17th, 'Under Review' on May 19th, and 'Required Reviews Completed' on June 2nd. But it has again gone to 'Under Review' now (on June 3rd). What does this mean?
Welcome to the forum!
That looks like a lot of back and forth on your paper (phew), but worry not. :-) Here’s what it probably means.
- Decision in Process, May 14: This means that the associate editor (AE) made a decision on the paper – based on peer reviews (in case the paper went for review; you haven’t mentioned the status/es before this one) or an internal review – and then communicated this decision to the Editor-in-Chief (EiC). Note that the AE makes the initial decision on the paper, but the EiC makes the final decision.
- Decision Rescinded, May 17: The EiC seems not to have agreed with the AE’s decision (which seems to have been a reject), and overturned the decision. It seems they asked the AE to send the paper for a peer review or another internal review.
- Under Review, May 19: Based on the EiC’s decision/recommendation, the AE seems to have sent the paper for a review. As the duration between this and the next update is about two weeks, this seems to be an external peer review, though it could also be an internal review, in case they had an internal expert in the subject matter.
- Required Reviews Completed, June 2: The review (peer or internal) was completed, and the comments sent to the AE, logged in the system, or both.
- Under Review, June 3: Given the status updates so far, this may not be so easy to interpret. This could mean that the AE is going through the review comments to arrive at a decision on the paper. At times, this could mean that not all the peer reviews are in, with one or more still awaited (depending on the allocated number of reviewers). In some other cases, this may mean that there is a conflict among the peer reviewers, and so, the AE has sent this to yet another peer reviewer for a neutral/second opinion. (Phew again.) In your case, from what we understand, it’s probably the first, that the AE is going through the comments and forming their evaluation of the paper.
As you have been communicated the status decisions (or have been checking up), you should wait for the next update to know more. However, if you don’t hear from them for a while (say, two weeks or so), you could drop them a mail seeking an update.
To put you at further ease, you may go through this similar query from not too long ago: My paper is in the "Decision Rescinded" status after the "Decision in Process" status. What does this mean?
All the best for the next steps!