Article manuscripts may be submitted to the journal through three different methods, namely sending a printed copy, using web-based software, and email.
Nowadays many journals prefer the last two methods since they are easier and make the workflow of the journal move forward faster. An online article submission system (which may also be called peer review software or manuscript management software) is much more useful. However, the establishment of such a system demands great management since it is costly and requires experts’ knowledge. As a matter of fact, there are several free software available for this purpose, but only experts can utilize them.
Drawing a diagram of the content management process can be a great help in understanding it. This diagram can include the person or persons responsible for each step and outline different steps, starting from the submission of the article manuscript until its final acceptance or rejection. Such a diagram should demonstrate the relationship between the staff, namely the editors, authors, and reviewers. It must also specify who is responsible for what step, how long each task will take to be completed, and when reports should be made to the chief editor or owner of the journal.
The best form of this process can be accomplished easily through an article manuscript management software and a database including the names, emails and telephone numbers of the staff, such as reviewers and editors. However, when such software is not available, an organized paper-based schedule and a tracking system can be useful for emerging journals. Nonetheless, as the scientific journal grows, the need to use web-based searchable databases and the above-mentioned software grows with it as well.
In order to communicate more effectively, work plans (preferably multipurpose) should be prepared for each step, so that the staff members can select the best option at the right time. Some common work plans are listed below:
- Sending letters of appreciation to the authors for submitting their article manuscripts (different versions for original and revised articles)
- Asking who will review an article (addressed to the reviewers)
- Request revising an article (addressed to the authors of the manuscripts)
- Announcing whether an article manuscript is rejected, accepted or conditionally accepted (addressed to the authors)
- Requesting some explanations or additions, such as some extra items, copyright, or the approval of the organization supporting the article (addressed to the authors)
- Thanking the reviewers for reviewing the article and requesting their bank account numbers for payment
Scheduling plays a critical role in a scientific journal office. Staff members are responsible for taking the article manuscript from one step to the next; therefore, the editorial board must be aware of the changes of these manuscripts and the decisions made for them. Furthermore, the editorial assistant should send the required information to the authors within a time limit. Deadlines must be set for the authors and they should know when they can contact the journal. After the management of article manuscripts, the accepted articles will enter the content production process.