Stages of manuscript review
The original submissions and resubmissions go through the following stages before final decisions are made.
- Admin checklist: The staff of Editorial Office checks the content of submission for completeness and identifies original submission and resubmission. If the manuscript content is incomplete or format incorrect, the manuscript will be returned to the author as 'unsubmitted'.
- Associate Editor (AE) assignment: The Managing Editor selects an AE to handle the submitted manuscript. For resubmissions, the same AE will be assigned unless for special reasons.
- Reviewer selection: The assigned AE selects a group of potential reviewers. For resubmissions, the AE can choose to invite the same or a different group of reviewers.
- Reviewer invitation: The AE sends review invitations to selected reviewers. The invitation contains title, author list, and abstract of the submitted manuscript.
- Reviewer assignment: The invited reviewers who accept the invitation are assigned to the manuscript. The assigned reviewers will receive an e-mail with instructions and the link to the ScholarOne Manuscripts page that includes the manuscript and evaluation forms. By default, the number of required reviewers for a paper is 3.
- Reviewer scores: The reviewers are given 21 days to finish the review and upload scores and comments onto ScholarOne Manuscripts. After the due date, ScholarOne Manuscripts will send up to 3 automatic e-mail reminders every 5 days until the review is returned. If requested by the reviewer, the Editorial Office can grant extension to the deadline in ScholarOne Manuscripts. The AE can also choose to change the number of required reviewers if necessary.
- AE recommendation: After all the reviews are returned, the AE makes the accept or reject recommendation to the EiC based on the returned comments.
- Editor-in-Chief (EiC) decision: The EiC makes final decision based on reviewer comments and AE recommendation.
The submitted revision automatically goes to the same AE and directly enter the above stage 7 (AE recommendation). However, the AE can choose to send the paper into another round of peer review starting at stage 3.
After the author uploaded the Final Files for a manuscript that is "Accepted", the uploaded final files will be exported within 24 hours to IEEE transactions department which prepares the publication. Once final files are exported, the Editorial Office cannot help the author making changes to the submission. The author will be contacted by IEEE staff editors regarding the problems with final files and proof reading and will be given a chance to make changes to the paper.
TMI averages 6 weeks from the time a manuscript is submitted to the time a decision is made. But because all the reviewers and associate editors and even the EIC are volunteer positions, many times extensions of the due dates are requested and granted, so the actual time in review could be several months.
Once a paper is accepted for publication, there is a backlog of papers awaiting print publication. But upon acceptance a paper will become available in "Early Access Articles" on the IEEE-Xplore website (http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/Xplore/home.jsp) within a few weeks and it is citable.
EiC immediate decisions
After the admin checklist or AE assignment stage, a manuscript may be forwarded to the EiC to determine if peer review is necessary. The EiC will study the paper and decide either to send it into peer review or to return it with one of the immediate decisions as follows.
- Immediate reject: no further consideration
- Immediate reject: submit to another journal
After peer review and AE recommendation, the EiC will study the paper together with reviewer comments and AE recommendation to make one of the following decisions.
- Accept pending minor revision: no external review required
- Reject/Resubmit: major revisions needed and new external review required
- Reject with recommendation to submit to another journal
TMI's policies regrading review and decision
TMI only allows one resubmission. The decision on a resubmission will not be "Reject/Resubmit: major revisions needed and new external review required".
It is against TMI policy to reveal the status of a paper under review. After the AE is assigned and before a decision is made, the status of a paper in the author's ScholarOne Manuscripts is always shown as "with associate editor".
It is against TMI policy to discuss the contents of reviews outside of ScholarOne Manuscripts. The EiC, AE and the Editorial Office cannot discuss the correctness of the review unless the manuscript is resubmitted to TMI.
The author always has the right to resubmit a rejected paper. However, when resubmission has been discouraged, the author will either have to show convincingly—both in the response-to-reviewers and in the revised version of the paper—that the reviews were seriously in error, or that the reviews have given the author insights that have improved the paper significantly. Solely referencing the comments of the reviewers will generally not be sufficient for reconsideration. The decision to reject a paper with no further consideration implies that we do not expect a resubmission to reach the level of TMI publications, even if the given points of critique are addressed.
Please be aware that a positive reviewer critique does not necessarily imply an overall positive judgment. Quite often, reviewers present a more negative judgment and more outspoken arguments to reject the paper in the confidential comments to the editors than in the comments to the authors.