Q: What does the status 'Under Review' mean in the ScholarOne manuscript workflow?

Detailed Question -

I recently submitted a manuscript to a reputed computer science (CS) journal that follows the ScholarOne workflow system. The manuscript status was first displayed as ‘Awaiting Admin Processing.’ After a week, it changed to ‘Awaiting Editor Assignment.’ After that, it has been ‘Under Review’ for eight weeks. What does this status mean? Should I write to the editor?

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Answer:

It is great that you are so keenly following the progress on your manuscript. It shows that you are keen to know the outcome on it.

Now, while the same status can have different meanings in different journals, in this case, the three statuses likely mean the following.

  • Awaiting Admin Processing: The manuscript was waiting to be picked up the first time for an initial review. This would involve checking for aspects such as match with the scope of the journal and adherence to guidelines. This would be done by an administrative assistant. In case it also involves checking for the quality of the science and the writing, it would be done by an Associate Editor (AE).
  • Awaiting Editor Assignment: While this typically means that the manuscript is awaiting assignment to an AE, in this case, it probably means it is awaiting assignment to a peer reviewer. It means that the AE has performed their initial check (as described in the previous point) and is looking for suitable peer reviewers.
  • Under Review: This means that the manuscript is presently under peer review. (Note that for some journals, this could mean the AE review, but again, here, it does seem that the manuscript is being checked by the peer reviewers.)

Peer review can take a few weeks or even months based on the topic and domain as well as on availability of the reviewers. (In CS, for instance, it is known to take longer.) As it has been two months since the peer review started, you could wait for another month or so to see if there is an update in the status. If not, you could write to the editor politely inquiring about the status. All the best!

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