Instructions for Associate Editors
Thank you for the exceptional service you provide to the medical imaging community by volunteering your time to manage the submitted manuscripts. IEEE TMI is a highly ranked and consequently highly selective journal. This makes your role as an Associate Editor an extremely important one.
The Editor in Chief
- Immediate decision—Can accept or reject a manuscript immediately
- Can decide a manuscript is worthy of the review process and send to Associate Editor to manage the usual process.
- May be uncertain if the manuscript is worthy of review and ask the Associate Editor to make a recommendation to the EIC.
The usual review process
- The administrator checks to see if the manuscript is legible and complete, and runs iThenticate software to check for possible plagiarism.
- The Editor in Chief assigns an Associate Editor to manage the manuscript and an automatic email is sent to the Associate Editor.
- The Associate Editor assigns 3 reviewers within 3 days of being assigned a manuscript.
- Assigned Reviewers have 3 weeks to submit their review. Just prior to the 3 week deadline and periodically afterwards, automatic reminders are sent to the reviewer through the ScholarOne system. Seven reminders are sent, at 7 and 2 days before the due date and 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 days after the due date.
- The reminder at 15 days after due date – Reviewer reminder #4 for IEEE TMI-xxxx-xxxx – is cc'ed to the AE. After receiving this reminder, the AE should start inviting new back up reviewers if necessary – or consider making the recommendation as long as at least two reviews are available.
- The last reminder – Reviewer reminder #6 for IEEE TMI-xxxx-xxxx – is cc'ed to the AE. After receiving this reminder, the AE should take immediate appropriate actions such as un-assign the late reviewer, invite a new reviewer for a quick review, or make recommendation to the EIC if 2 reviews are available.
- There must be two reviews on a manuscript before an EIC decision can be made. If you are unable to obtain at least two reviews in a reasonable amount of time, please let the EIC know as soon as the situation becomes clear.
When all reviews are returned, the AE makes a recommendation:
When assessing the paper, please consider whether the paper is "exceptional", "excellent", or just "good" and make your recommendation accordingly. Please keep in mind that we are a selective journal and that there are many "good" papers that we simply cannot accept due to space limitations—so please recommend acceptance or revision for those that are truly exceptional or excellent, and recommend rejection for the other ones.
- ACCEPT WITH MINOR REVISION
- REJECT/RE-SUBMIT (use sparingly)
It is the policy of TMI to only allow one major revision for a paper that was returned with "Reject/Resubmit: major revisions needed and new external review required". In other words, if you receive such a revised manuscript for review, you should make either a recommendation to accept (possibly with a minor revision) or reject with no further consideration. The "Reject/Resubmit" should not be your recommendation unless there is some truly strong reason for allowing a 2nd revision — which you would need to justify in your review. This is motivated by our desire to concentrate on the best papers and not increase the demand on reviewer's time for papers that do not have a high promise to deserve publication in TMI. This should also increase the level of polish of the original and revised manuscripts.
Dealing specifically with your possible recommendation of Reject/Resubmission, ask the following questions before you decide that a paper should be rejected with a resubmission encouragement:
- Will the revision turn this paper into a first-ranked manuscript (not just a manuscript with major problems fixed)?
- Is the contribution novel enough to warrant publication in TMI?
- Is the impact of the paper going to be significant enough to warrant publication in TMI?
- If you can answer "yes" to all these questions, by all means please give the authors a chance to revise and resubmit.
- If, however, you have doubts about the outcome of a revision, please consider recommending that the paper be rejected with no further consideration. It may actually free up the authors to submit to another journal faster than by going through one more round of TMI reviews — and it will let all of us (Associate Editors and reviewers) concentrate on the best of the best manuscripts and consequently continue increase the quality of TMI and the entire field.
- REJECT/RESUBMIT TO ANOTHER JOURNAL
This option should be used for manuscripts that are out of scope. We expect all TMI papers for make a contribution to imaging methods (interpreted broadly). However, we receive manuscripts describing instrumentation or clinical results without a broad discussion of the methodology associated with the advance. These papers are out of scope. However, if the issue prompting a decision to reject is about the quality of the contribution, the recommendation should be to REJECT outright.
For this decision, we are not encouraging authors to resubmit a revision.
Please summarize your thoughts in the section for the authors but please do not write your recommendation in the comments to authors.
The Editor-in Chief may be unsure if the manuscript is worthy of the full review process and will ask the Associate Editor for advice.
The Associate Editor is assigned a manuscript and after her/his reading decides to recommend "reject" without a full review.
If AE recommends reject:
If the EIC asks for your recommendation on whether the manuscript should be sent out for peer review, or whether you receive an assignment and you feel it should not be sent out for review, and you wish to recommend "Immediate Reject", change the number of reviews required to 0. This will bring up the "Immediate Reject" button. Click the "Immediate Reject" button and write a paragraph (Comments for the Editor) summarizing the reasons for your recommendation. The EIC will either use your comments verbatim (unless you specify otherwise) or paraphrase them in his response to the author for the decision of Immediate Reject. The comments will NOT be identified as coming from the Associate Editor, but rather
"The Editorial Board has carefully considered the information presented in your manuscript and has decided not to send it out for external peer review. Our consensus is that your manuscript is not suitable for publication in the IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging due to...(limited novelty, recommend another journal, etc.)."
Then your comments will appear as "Comments from the Editorial Board".
All AEs seem to welcome the possibility of an Immediate Decision as opposed to requesting reviews for a paper that is unlikely to be accepted after a single revision. The goal is to reduce reviewer fatigue and shorten the time to first decision, allowing the authors to submit to another journal quickly.
If AE thinks paper should be reviewed:
Continue with the usual review process.
Please try to manage each of these stages promptly. The ranking of TMI is partly dependent on turn-around time.
Duplicate reviewer accounts
If you have trouble inviting reviewers because of too many duplicate accounts for one reviewer in the ScholarOne system, please be sure to report the issue to the administrator at email@example.com so the duplicate accounts can be merged.
If you have received 2 reviews for a manuscript that are in agreement, but a third reviewer is overdue despite repeated reminders, and you agree with the reviewers' assessment, set the number of reviewers needed to 2 and make your recommendation.
Making recommendations with only two reviews should be an exception, a rare occurrence and not a general practice. Inviting additional reviewers at the outset (4 instead of 3) helps limit this problem.