Q: What is the difference between a subject editor and an associate editor?
I submitted a paper to Elsevier journal 2 weeks back. Now I received an email that the paper is being sent to another editor. When I checked the journal site, I understood that it has moved from a Subject Editor to an Associate Editor . What does this mean?
It seems that the process for this journal is slightly different. Generally, once a paper is submitted, the Editor-in-chief assigns it to an Associate Editors (AEs). However, for larger journals where the volume of submission is high, it might be difficult for one person to assign AEs for all submissions. Hence, some larger journals have Subject Editors who manage all submissions for a particular subject. For such journals, once a submission comes in, it is sent to the Subject Editor. This person is in charge of all papers related to a specific subject and is responsible for allocating each paper to an Associate Editor. I think your journal too follows this process.
Once an AE is assigned for a paper, he/she is responsible for the evaluation and review process of that paper. From the editorial screening to assigning reviewers, and giving a recommendation on whether to accept or reject a paper, the AE is the person who sees your paper through the first decision.