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The building blocks that make the editorial process more efficient for our editors

Looking at the tools and systems that support your work as an editor

© istockphoto.com/otawa
© istockphoto.com/otawa

Each year, our 20,000 editors partner with around 72,000 board members and 830,000 reviewers to support the peer review of submitted manuscripts, resulting in the publication of 436,000 articles. With such huge volumes and numbers of people involved, it’s essential that our editorial systems contain the right foundational building blocks to support the submission and editorial workflows. When the editorial process runs smoothly, important research can get out there as quickly as possible.

In this update we want to highlight just a small selection of the features of our editorial systems: EES and EVISE, that help ensure the editorial process is as efficient – and enjoyable – as possible for you. Thanks to these tools, you can focus on handling and accepting high quality articles for publication.

Automated reminders and un-invitations

In both EES and EVISE we send automated reminder emails to authors and reviewers with whom actions are pending e.g. overdue revision, late review. The aim of these alerts is to remind busy researchers of their tasks to help keep them on track, and researchers tell us they find them helpful. We are planning to review configuration options for automated messages as part of a broader project, and we’ll be in touch later this year to discuss journal-level settings and any customisation preferences with the editor(s) of each journal.

We also want to keep our editorial systems as current and streamlined as possible, and this means keeping on top of the housekeeping behind the scenes: removing submissions that are incomplete, closing revision offers that are not submitted, and cancelling reviewer assignments where the reports are not submitted in a timely manner. We are in the process of reviewing the deadlines as they currently are, and will be in touch in due course with any journals where we feel the settings could be optimised.

Built-in prioritization

We have a traffic light system that makes management of the editorial process easier for editors by helping you to identify – quickly and visually with colour coding – submissions that are lagging behind (indicated in red) and which require attention. This traffic light system is integrated differently into EES and EVISE: in EES the colour coding is contained within reminder emails, while in EVISE it is displayed within the system itself. If your EES journal does not have this feature switched on, but you are interested in enabling it, please reach out to your production contact who will be able to assist.

Co-author service

In October 2017 for EVISE, and in January 2018 for EES, we rolled out the co-author service to our systems. Now, during submission, the corresponding author is required to provide the email addresses of their co-authors, who are then invited to register. Having done so they are able to access information and receive alerts about the status of the paper(s) they have co-authored, and any decisions that are made on them, though they cannot make changes to the submission(s). The aim of this service is to ensure all authors are kept fully informed of the status of their manuscript. Why does this matter to editors? In the past editors received status queries from co-authors, so by providing this information to all authors of a paper proactively, there is less need for co-authors to contact editors to request this information.

Decision support tools

While you, our editors, are ultimately the experts when it comes to finding reviewers, we want to support this activity as much as possible, leveraging our unique insights about the experts working in each field, for example, from Scopus. For a number of years, we have supported the identification of new reviewers (outside an individual journal’s existing database) through the “Find Reviewer” tool powered by Scopus, which is available from within EES and EVISE.

Now in EVISE, we are introducing even more sophisticated functionality to help editors with the task of finding suitable reviewers. One example is the redesigned journal reviewer list (JRL) for reviewers within a journal database, which was rolled out for all EVISE journals at the end of February. We have received extremely positive feedback about the JRL from editors but we are still continuing to improve the JRL, for example, adding more “at-a-glance” information, such as user associated taxonomy topics and reviewer history.

We want to go even further than this, and we’ve therefore been developing a new tool: the Reviewer Recommender. This tool uses the submitted manuscript metadata alongside insights about researchers from across our systems to identify up to 100 candidate reviewers, which are then ranked by reviewing and publication history. We have been piloting this on a handful of journals and the initial results are extremely encouraging:

It’s kind of scary just how good it is.
This is nothing short of a revolutionary tool for editors.

– Editor piloting the Reviewer Recommender

We’re now looking to pilot the tool on a larger group of journals, so if you are interested in your EVISE journal joining the Reviewer Recommender open beta pilot and working with us to develop it further, please reach out to your Elsevier publishing contact to explore this.

Evolving needs

Time doesn’t stand still, of course, and we’re continuing to build and develop our editorial systems to meet evolving publishing needs and market developments. We will update you on an ongoing basis as we make significant changes and improvements to our systems, but we encourage you to reach out to your normal Elsevier contact(s) if you have any questions about your editorial system or any of the features mentioned above in the meantime.

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