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Publish with us

'Author Heroes' can guide you on your publication journey

May 6, 2022

By Paige Shaklee, PhD

Image banner Author Heroes

Researchers – was your paper rejected? Our Author Heroes can help you get published in another journal.

If you’re an academic researcher, publication in a respected journal is critical to having your work vetted and disseminated to the research community. Unfortunately, millions of researchers encounter rejection during the publication process each year and are faced with taking a gamble on another journal, going through the process all over again. Not only does rejection waste authors’ time, but another editor will need to evaluate the paper. Likely, new peer reviewers are invited to evaluate the paper, too.

Researchers spend a significant amount of unnecessary time and effort taking a single research article through the scholarly publication process. So we set out to change that.

Turning wasted time into opportunity

Last year, we created the Elsevier Author Heroes team to guide authors from rejection to the journal where they would have the greatest chance of acceptance, quickly and easily. Our Scientific Managing Editors — “Author Heroes” — work closely with journal editors across Elsevier’s portfolios to help more authors get published in Elsevier journals. As part of our Article Transfer Service, Author Heroes step in at the point of rejection, providing tailored editorial guidance and journal recommendations that are likely to lead to publication in another Elsevier journal. We started with a team of just a few Author Heroes. They set out to identify pain points authors and editors experience around rejection and began testing our personalized approach, advising authors on how to improve their rejected articles and guiding them to the best journals for their papers.

We quickly saw that Author Heroes were able to improve the publication process in some essential ways:

1. Build strong collaborations with journal editors to understand the nuanced editorial bar of journals across Elsevier. As Dr Carl Pepineopens in new tab/window, Editor in Chief of the American Heart Journal Plusopens in new tab/window, shares:

"The breadth of transfers is expanded. I am seeing articles from journals I was not previously seeing. I appreciate the Author Hero hands-on approach and interest in identifying papers that are right for the journal."

Carl Pepine, MD

2. Save peer reviewers from a new review request by leveraging feedback from peer reviewers at the first journal and interpreting their reviews with a view of the requirements for alternative journals.

Author Hero Dr Flavian Stokkeropens in new tab/window, Scientific Editor for Elsevier’s optics journals says:

Comprehensive peer-review feedback allows me to create tailored journal transfer offers, and we don’t have to ask peer reviewers to invest more of their time. Also, authors can take that feedback to improve their submission and have their paper accepted for publication in another journal.

Flavian Stokker, PhD

3. Tap into their own subject expertise and breadth of exposure to research crossing their desk.

Author Hero Dr Yi Zhengopens in new tab/window, Scientific Editor for Elsevier’s cardiology journals, says:

I meet regularly with the Editors-in-Chief of Elsevier’s cardiology journals. I can give updates and obtain feedback from them. This helps me to improve our service to authors.

Yi Zheng, PhD

Turning disappointment into delight

In one instance, author Dr Mohd Nizam Tzaropens in new tab/window and his co-authors, Drs Wan Husna, BarakahMeor Jamaludinopens in new tab/windowAsrulAbdul Wahabopens in new tab/window and Chuan HunDingopens in new tab/window, initially faced disappointment after submitting their paper to the International Journal of Infectious Diseasesopens in new tab/windowAuthor Hero Dr Rong Fanopens in new tab/window checked in with the authors to understand their editorial and funding needs and guided them to IDCasesopens in new tab/window. Within three weeks, their Case Report Exophiala dermatitidis, ‘the real black fungus’ fungemia in a patient with COVID-19opens in new tab/windowwas accepted and published in IDCases. Aftwarwards, Mohd wrote:

Dear Rong, Thank you very much for your help, now everything is settled. I’m super glad that I listened to your advice to transfer my manuscript to IDCases. You truly are an Author Hero!

Rong Fan, PhD

An international team of 100

With these positive early signs, we have rapidly grown the team to be able to serve more authors in the research community. Today, Author Heroes is a team of about 100, with in-house Scientific Managing Editors across the globe who range in expertise from food science to nursing, energy research, bioinformatics, education and engineering. We are guiding authors from more than 300 Elsevier journals to the journal that hold the highest chance of acceptance.

Conserving research resources

Author Heroes is also building a strong collaboration with the open access Cell Press journal Heliyon,opens in new tab/window where Author Heroes serve as Scientific Managing Editorsopens in new tab/window alongside the Lead, Section and Associate Editors. In addition to continually honing their editorial skills and broadening their scientific knowledge by considering manuscripts at Heliyon, Author Heroes are able to make time-saving offers to authors who have been unsuccessful at other Elsevier journals.

For example, an Author Hero could offer an author a Transfer Recommended Accept into Heliyon: Author Heroes use the peer reviewer feedback and their own editorial evaluation from the first journal to guide authors on appropriate revisions that will result in their rapid acceptance at Heliyon and present that offer to authors. Heliyon Lead Editor Dr Christian Schulzopens in new tab/window writes: "We are delighted we can offer authors a great experience through the Heliyon-Author Heroes collaboration and help more authors to get their articles published more easily and quickly. We are mutually committed to conserving research resourcesopens in new tab/window, and this collaboration allows us to take a significant step forward in that commitment."

Christian Schulz, PhD

General surgery resident Dr Rongzhi Wang of the University of Alabama at Birmingham was recently supported by Author Hero Dr Anna Boyumopens in new tab/window and rapidly accepted into Heliyon. He wrote about his experience:

I enjoy and appreciate the transfer process. I have nothing but good things to say. My project was presented at Academic Surgical Congressopens in new tab/window and submitted to the Journal of Surgical Researchopens in new tab/window. Unfortunately, my manuscript got rejected. I was offered a transfer to one of the two alternative journals: Surgery in Practice and Scienceopens in new tab/window and Heliyon. After revision, I transferred my manuscript to Surgery in Practice and Scienceopens in new tab/window through the online portal. However, my manuscript quickly got rejected.

I contacted Dr Boyum and asked about the possibility of transferring to another alternative journal. Dr Boyum responded very quickly and offered to share my manuscript with Heliyon editors for considering a transfer. Within one week, Dr Boyum reached out to me and notified me that my manuscript got accepted by Heliyon. I appreciate Dr Boyum’s responsiveness. I am impressed by the efficiency and flexibility of the entire transfer process.

Anna Boyum, PhD

By the numbers

We are continually improving on our Author Heroes editorial service through community feedback to improve publication outcomes for authors. Three months into 2022, more than 50,000 initially unsuccessful authors have been offered guidance about the next steps for their manuscript through a tailored transfer from an Author Hero. Of those authors who have followed the Author Hero guidance, more than 1,000 authors have already been published.


Paige Shaklee, PhD


Paige Shaklee, PhD

Director of Author Heroes