Q: Why was my manuscript moved to another Associate Editor (AE)?

Detailed Question -

I submitted a manuscript to [---]. After a while, I got a notification that my manuscript was being handled by a particular AE. However, one week later, I got a notification that my manuscript was now being handled by another AE because the first AE was not able to finalize the peer review process. Two days later, I checked the status and found that it had changed to Under Review. It has now been Under Review for three weeks.

My question is: Why was my manuscript switched to another AE after just a week? Could there have been a disagreement among the editors about my manuscript? Is this a good or a bad sign?

1 Answer to this question

You have three questions: why your manuscript was moved from one AE to another, whether this is a reflection on the quality of your manuscript, and whether you have reason to be concerned. However, they are all around the point of the shift and your concern over it. So, let’s address that.

Now, you haven’t mentioned (either accidentally or intentionally) which journal you submitted to. Also, the notification “the first AE was not able to finalize the peer review process” may have multiple interpretations. It may be that AE1 was not able to find the requisite number of peer reviewers within the stipulated time. This in turn may be because the reviewers they reached out to were busy, unavailable, or had conflicts of interest (CoI) with your manuscript. It may also be that the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) felt AE2 would be a better fit for your manuscript possibly due to greater familiarity with your subject area. Another possibility is that AE1 is either new to the role or to the journal. However, as you can see, all this is mere speculation and not really relevant to the review or decision-making of your manuscript.

What is a good sign though, at least, an initial one, is that your manuscript has cleared the desk screening and has been sent for peer review. As it has been in review for three weeks, and without knowing which journal this is, it is likely to come back within the next few weeks. So, you could probably begin thinking about how you’ll handle the peer review comments. For that, you may find the following articles helpful:

And if you need further help with understanding what happens to your manuscript at the journal soon after submission, you could refer to these articles:

Hope all that helps. All the best for the next updates on your manuscript!