Associate Editor Instructions (as of 08/13/2014)

Editorial Process Overview

The manuscript submission and peer review process is broken down into the following seven basic steps:

  1. The Author submits a manuscript for publication in the journal.
  2. The Editor assigns a potential Associate Editor to handle the peer-review process for the manuscript.
    • The Editorial Office contacts Potential Associate Editor via e-mail.
    • The Potential Associate Editor can Accept/Decline the assignment.
    • If needed, the Journal Manager requests the Editor to select another Potential Associate Editor.
    • This process continues until an Associate Editor is identified.
  3. The Associate Editor assigns Referees to the manuscript.
    • The Associate Editor assigns Potential Referees.
    • The Associate Editor or the Editorial Office contacts Potential Referees via e-mail.
    • Potential Referees can Accept/Decline the request.
    • If needed, the Journal Manager requests the Associate Editor to select more Potential Referees.
    • This process continues until at least two Referees are identified.
  4. The Assigned Referees review the manuscript, and submit their comments to the Associate Editor.
  5. The Associate Editor makes a recommendation to the Editor.
  6. The Editor makes a final journal decision regarding publication of the current manuscript.
  7. The Author is contacted with the decision.

If revisions to the manuscript are invited, the Author may resubmit a revised manuscript, and the process cycle is repeated. Resubmissions are directed first to the Editor for consideration. If further review is needed, the original Associate Editor is usually requested to handle the process again, although in some cases the Editor may contact the original Referees directly.

A manuscript that contains multiple misspellings, poor composition or an obscure writing style, should be returned to the editorial office by the associate editor without further review. The manuscript can be rejected and sent back to the Author without further review if the English is exceptionally poor. The Associate Editor should select "Rejected With Resubmission Possible" as his recommendation.

As the Associate Editor, you are responsible for step #3 and step #5. The article should present original, previously unpublished information. If there is evidence to the contrary, the referee should cite references that provide the evidence. The Associate Editor should be particularly alert to information in the article that might have been taken from another publication without an appropriate reference. Medical Physics follows the plagiarism policy of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, which can be accessed at www.aapm.org. If there is an appearance of plagiarism, it should be brought immediately to the attention of the editor.

Navigating the System

When you first log into the system, you are taken to your Home screen (Main page). It displays several categories of tasks, but in particular "Associate Editor Tasks." When there is a pending action item that might benefit from your attention as Associate Editor, there will be a red arrow arrow next to a manuscript link. Clicking on this link returns a Manuscript Items/Tasks screen containing:

(Not all of these tasks/links will be present at a given time. Only those applicable to the current processing stage of the manuscript are visible.)

If no red arrows arroware visible on the Home screen (Main page), then there is no pending work that you need to worry about. At any time, you may choose to Check Status of a manuscript assigned to you. Such a task possibility for a particular manuscript might be found directly on the Home screen. But in any case, the complete list of manuscripts under consideration that you are working on is conveniently found via the Associate Editor Workload Report .

Additionally, the Associate Editor receives an email prompt before steps #3 and #5 so that you know when you need to log into the system to perform action tasks on manuscripts assigned to you. The email messages contain hyperlinks that bring you directly into the system at an appropriate screen.

Assigning Potential Referees

After logging into the system and clicking on an "Accept/Decline" manuscript link preceded by a red arrow, you are presented with a Manuscript Items/Tasks screen as described above. At the bottom of this screen under "Manuscript Tasks" are displayed Accept and Decline links. Clicking on the Accept link returns the Home screen again, but now the manuscript link reads "Assign Potential Referees." This link proceeds to a Manuscript Items/Tasks screen with "Assign Potential Referees" as a prominent (red arrowed) Manuscript Task.

When you click the "Assign Potential Referees" link, a potential-referee-assignment screen will be displayed. The potential-referee-assignment screen is presented as two frames.

  1. The upper frame displays two tables: a table of summary data about the manuscript and a table in which to enter or copy Referee names and contact information. You may have to scroll down in the frame to see this latter table.

    The top line of the manuscript data table has a link (the Manuscript #) to display the files that form the manuscript submission. Clicking on this manuscript-number link returns a screen that lists the cover/rebuttal-letter files, the manuscript/article file or merged-PDF file (text and figures), and any supplemental files. There are links for each file in the list, and clicking on such a link displays the PDF version of the file.

    At the top of the Referee table is a selection box to set the desired number of referees to secure for this particular manuscript submission

  2. The lower frame of the assignment screen allows you to enter first or last name, expertise, or other keywords, and search for potential referees to assign to the manuscript.

    To use the search engine, type in the keyword(s) and press the "Search" button. NOTE that multiple keywords are combined with "AND" logic to make the search query. "ab*" and "a*b" wildcard constructs are supported. The keyword search is case insensitive.

    A list of names appears of persons in the database that match the keyword criteria. Shown after each person's name are their current workload as a referee (number of pending reports to do, of possible upcoming assignments, and of actual invitations/requests not yet accepted) and past-performance indicators (average of review durations, average of Editor-ranking values). If a short note has been associated with a person, an asterisk appears at the end of their entry in the search-results list, and the note comments appear in the "Note:" text box (when you highlight (select) the person's name).
    To learn more about a particular referee candidate, select (highlight) their name in the search-results list and press the "Reviewer Bio" button. This action brings up a separate page that contains the person's author/reviewer history and record for the journal. Alternatively, after highlighting their name, you can press the MEDLINE button for a list of their recent publications. (Note: At the Medline search-results screen, it may be desirable to refine the initial query, in order to get a list that is better focused to the intended person. In particular, if there is a middle name, add the initial immediately after the first-name initial in the Medline author-name query string.)

    An Associate Editor may select a post-doctoral student to review the manuscript, if the AE supervises the review process. This allows the post-doc student to gain experience in reviewing papers and enters the student into the database for possible other reviewing opportunities.

    Author-suggested names of peer reviewers to include or exclude, if any, are listed in the table of summary data about the manuscript (in the upper frame). The "include list," if any, is also initially displayed in the search-results list box (in the lower frame). At any time, pressing the "Include List" button will cause the list of referees recommended by the author, if any, to display in the search-results list box. Similarly, the "Exclude List" button will display the list of referees the author would prefer NOT be used. If the author provided a reason for suggesting that a peer reviewer be excluded, such comment will appear in the "Note:" text box (when you highlight the "exclude" reviewer's name). You are encouraged to honor the author's recommendations/exclusions unless there are strong reasons not to. But, ultimately, you are free to use your discretion in assigning referees.

Once a desired referee is found, select (highlight) their name in the search-results list and press the "Copy to Above" button to have this referee name and contact information automatically pasted into the Referee table in the upper frame. The "Copy Destination " radio button in the Referee table determines where the information gets pasted.

Choose at least as many candidates as the value set for the "Number of Reviewers to secure" (upper frame). Then press the "Assign Potential Reviewers" button in order to contact the candidates by email and invite them to review the manuscript. (Note: Use the "Assign Potential Reviewers - Home" button if you want the Manuscript Office Staff to send the potential reviewers an e-mail message for you. Use the "Assign Potential Reviewers - Contact" button if you want to send the e-mail message yourself, with the opportunity to personalize the message before sending it. If you do the latter, in the Process/Status column, choose "Send Request." This action will let you preview/edit the message prior to sending it. After checking the letter and making any modification, click the "Send" button at the bottom of the screen.) Do "Send Request" for each Potential Reviewer, but only for as many as the Desired Reviewer Count. When finished, press the "Continue" button (at the bottom left of the screen) to return to your Home screen (Main page).

Other controls on the Contact Potential Referee screen are intended for use by the Manuscript Office Staff. They will follow up with 2nd and 3rd contacts if needed.

On your Home screen, the red-arrowed task to "Contact Referees" will remain until the desired number of Potential Referees have agreed to accept the request to review. This task link allows you to return to the Contact Potential Referee screen and check on the status of securing assigned referees to review the manuscript.

It may turn out that a Potential Referee declines the assignment or is otherwise unavailable, and the Manuscript Office Staff will request that you choose additional candidates. In that case, on your Home screen you will again find an Associate Editor Task of "Assign Potential Referee" for this manuscript. Clicking on the link will direct you back to the potential-referee-assignment screen; the previous choices, and their current status, will be pre-filled in the Referee table.

Associate Editor Recommendation

After the desired number of Assigned Referees have submitted their reviews, the Associate Editor receives an email prompt to make the "Associate Editor Recommendation" via the process described below.

After logging into the system and clicking on a "Draft Recommendation" manuscript link preceded by a red arrow, you are presented with a Manuscript Items/Tasks screen as described above. At the bottom of this screen under "Manuscript Tasks" is displayed an "Associate Editor Recommendation" link. Clicking on this link will display the Associate Editor's Overall Assessment screen, which is made up of five sections as follows:

  1. Manuscript identification information.
  2. Reviewers' Overall Evaluation and Notes, and Referee Ranking (see below).
  3. Associate Editor's Recommendation (selection of an overall rating).
  4. Associate Editor's Remarks to Author.
  5. Confidential Remarks to the Editor. In this section you may, if you wish, recommend an illustration from the article for consideration for the Journal cover.

You are able to see the remarks and comments submitted by the reviewers, and on the basis of these you will formulate your recommendation to the Editor and provide your Referee Ranking. You are asked to evaluate the timeliness and quality of each review received on a scale of A+ (timely and very thorough review) through C (late and very superficial, uninformative review). We will use these "scores" in two ways: firstly, to keep you informed of average scores for each Referee when you are selecting Referees for articles and, secondly, when the Editor is assigning CAMPEP credits for reviews. The Editor can check off which of the reviewer comments to pass on to the author in the Decision Letter. The choice of decision-letter template will also be made by the Editor.

GUIDELINE FOR OUTRIGHT REJECTION OR REMEDIAL EDITING: Please note that you may recommend rejecting the manuscript outright without peer review if it is obvious to you that the authors' work is not suitable for the Journal or not of sufficient quality to survive the peer review process. If you select this option, please write a short paragraph explaining the basis of your recommendation to the authors.  Also, if the manuscript is poorly written, you can recommend that the authors have it edited to remedy language/compositional deficiencies before initiating peer review.             

GUIDELINE FOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR RECOMMENDATION BASED ON REFEREE REVIEWS: When you receive the referees' reviews, please write a short author-reviewable paragraph explaining the basis of your editorial recommendation.  If you recommend major revisions and another cycle of review, please include a short summary to guide the authors' efforts and to address any contradictory recommendations by the reviewers.

Pressing the "Submit Recommendation" button passes the manuscript to the Editor's desktop, to make the final journal decision, select/edit the decision letter, and email it to the author.

Availability Dates

If you know of specific dates when you CANNOT perform your Associate Editor responsibilities (such as vacations, meetings, etc.), please click on the "Modify Availability" link under Associate Editor Tasks on your Home screen (Main page). You will be presented with twelve fields/months where you can specify which days you will not be available. The Editor or the Editorial Office will use this information to avoid assigning manuscripts to you during the specified periods.

General Navigation and Getting Help

The upper right-hand corner of every page carries links that allow you to:

Throughout the system, red arrows arrow reflect possible pending action items that that might benefit from your attention as Associate Editor, by clicking on the associated link.

If you need additional help, you can click on the help signs help sign located throughout the system. A help dialog box will pop up with context-sensitive help comments.

Checking a Manuscript's Status; Associate Editor Workload Report

You may obtain the status of manuscripts assigned to you at any time. A "Check Status" task possibility for a particular manuscript might be found directly on the Home screen. But in any case, the complete list of manuscripts under consideration that you are working on is conveniently found via the Associate Editor Workload Report:

  1. Log into the system with your user name and password.
  2. If present, click on the appropriate "Check Status" link, presented with a manuscript tracking number and abbreviated title, on your Home screen (Main page).
  3. Or, use the Associate Editor Workload Report to display a table of manuscripts assigned to you; click on the appropriate manuscript tracking number.
  4. In either case, then click on the "Check Status" link in the Manuscript Tasks section of the next displayed page (towards the bottom).

This procedure will display detailed tracking status information about the location of the manuscript in the editorial process.