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Editors are trying to do their best for the authors, the journal, and the scientific endeavor. Read more. [Credit: Nancy R. Gough, BioSerendipity]

Authors and Editors, Partners not Enemies

For 17 years I was a journal editor. I was not a researcher serving as a volunteer on a journal editorial board or a part-time academic editor also running my own lab; I was a professional editor at a broad life sciences weekly journal. Since stepping down as the Editor of the journal, I have posted and commented about issues in scholarly publishing. I have been surprised by some of the reactions from scientists and authors. It seems to me that some scientists may not understand what happens after their manuscript is submitted. It may also be that the journal (Science Signaling) where I served as Editor is an anomaly, with editors that truly cared about the submitting authors and felt committed to helping get their work published in the most understandable, reproducible, and credible research article possible.

Journal editors should not hold manuscripts hostage. Manuscripts that are far from meeting the requirements of the journal for acceptance and publication should be rejected to free the authors to submit elsewhere.

Editors rejecting manuscripts because of serious technical or scientific flaws should make sure that the authors are told about these flaws so that they do not submit the flawed work to other journals.

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Understanding when manuscripts are still considered active at a journal lets authors avoid breaking the ethical rule of not submitting the same manuscript to multiple journals simultaneously.

If you submit a manuscript to a journal, you should intend to publish the article in that journal, not just use the journal as a peer review service to see how good (or bad) the work is.

A manuscript that flies through peer review without any serious issues should not be withdrawn to submit to a different (likely higher profile) journal. A manuscript that encounters some reviewer and editorial concerns should not be withdrawn simply because revisions were requested.

Written by

Ph.D. scientist with a passion for scientific communication and > 20 years editorial experience

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