Although each reviewer makes their recommendations, the editor makes the final editorial decisions regarding the disposition of manuscripts after weighing comments from all of the reviewers. Editors usually make a decision based on at least two reviewer reports per manuscript, depending on the topic and the quality of the manuscript. If the quality or the content of the reviews obtained is inadequate to fully inform a publication decision, the editor may seek additional reviews.
Editors will render a decision to accept or reject almost all of the papers submitted to an ASHA journal for consideration; occasionally an author will withdraw their paper prior to an editor having finalized a decision. The quality of submissions received range from innovative, well-researched, and well-written articles that will make a significant contribution to the discipline to poorly written, disorganized, or repetitive papers. The average submission falls somewhere between these two extremes. The editor should not hesitate to immediately reject any paper that is outside the journal’s scope or poorly crafted. There are services available to help authors improve the quality of the paper and the editor can suggest those to an author in their rejection letter.
To arrive at a fair recommendation, the editor’s decision should be informed by comments provided by reviewers, which are integrated with the editor’s own consideration of all aspects of the manuscript. Ultimately, the outcome of the review process should not be based on a tally of positive and negative comments from reviewers, but rather on the editor’s informed, objective appraisal of the likelihood that the manuscript will contribute reliable and valid new information to the discipline. The new information must also merit archival inclusion in one of ASHA’s journals.
Editorial decisions on submitted articles fall into four categories:
Major or Minor Revision
Most papers fall into this category. An editor is not obliged to accept a paper that has been revised and resubmitted if it is still not of the appropriate standard
- Papers needing major revision usually contain original information that the editor wants to publish in the journal. However, the paper contains one or more serious problems in substance or form, whose resolution might result in a generally acceptable manuscript. Resubmitted manuscripts typically are reviewed again by the editor and reviewers. This category applies only to manuscripts that contain important information to begin with, whose flaws might be correctable.
- Papers needing minor revision are almost suitable for acceptance, but not quite. For example, references may need to be added, results may need to be better explained and/or interpreted, or figures may need to be reformatted. Minor revisions are commonly not resent to reviewers, but are accepted by the editor after checking that all corrections asked for by the reviewers have been addressed.
These papers are acceptable as submitted, and are quite rare. Some minor copy-editing may still be required, but any changes required will be caught at the copyediting stage, so the authors need not submit a revision.
Rejection After Review
The reviewers may recommend rejection because of faulty science or concepts in the paper. In this case, the content, style, and/or preparation of the manuscript are flawed to the extent that it is unlikely that revisions can render the manuscript suitable for publication. The content of the manuscript might also be unsuitable or inappropriate for the journal.
Immediate Rejection by the Editor
This decision is made by the editor without sending the submission for review, although an editor may sometimes ask a trusted colleague or the editor-in-chief to provide a second opinion. Depending on the problem, the papers may be resubmitted at a later date. However, sometimes manuscripts submitted are clearly inappropriate for your journal. Reasons an editor might immediately reject a manuscript include the following:
- The topic covered is outside of the journal’s scope;
- The manuscript is incomplete, perhaps lacking an abstract, keywords, author (contact) information, and/ or figures;
- The manuscript is riddled with grammatical errors to the point that the results presented are unclear;
- The references and information presented is very out-of-date;
- The authors have not followed the basic requirements outlines in the guide for authors;
In addition, there may be rare occasions when an editor has concerns about the ethics of a paper or suspects scientific misconduct. In such cases, the editor will want to refer to ASHA’s Peer Review Policies.
The editor should support his or her recommendations by providing comments to be conveyed to authors regarding specific strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript, including suggestions for improvement of the manuscript or for the authors’ future research endeavors.