Video: Research articles peer review process

 

Transcript

Good afternoon. Welcome to my home office, here in Tampa, Florida. I am Lisa Meloncon, co-founder and current co-editor of Rhetoric of Health and Medicine.

We determined that we needed to give you all some background on how we do some things at the journal and one of them is how we do reviews.  While our process is similar to other academic journals, it’s also a little different. And in our hope to make publishing more transparent, we decided once of the first videos should discuss how reviews are done.

After you submit a manuscript in the online RHM system, Blake and I both read it. Our first decision—which we make within two weeks and usually much quicker than that—is to determine whether we send it out for review or desk reject it.

Desk reject means that it is rejected at the desk of the editors. We will desk reject a manuscript if it does not fit the focus and scope of the journal; if the argument is in its nascent stages, which means that the manuscript is unfocused, may have competing claims, and often does not have adequate support or evidence; if the manuscript is wholly unaware of the field and scholarship of RHM, and finally, if it does not have a rhetorical focus. The manuscripts we have received that have been desk rejected have fit into one of these areas. In regards to the last one--not a rhetorical focus—this is one of the most important and Blake will be doing a video to help further explain what is meant by rhetorical focus outside of what we already have online.

If the manuscript is not desk rejected, we send it out for anonymous review. We select two reviewers and we choose reviewers with an eye toward getting someone who is an expert in the manuscript’s topic and with a diversity of backgrounds. Diversity of backgrounds means we are working toward having the reviewers represent different disciplinary areas of RHM such as one person from communication and the other a linguist. It is likely that one of the reviewers will be a member of the editorial board.

Reviewers have four options for a decision on the manuscript.

  • Accept with revisions
  • Revisions requested
  • Resubmit for Review
  • Reject

An option in the software system we use to manage RHM, “revisions requested” is not a common decision category for other journals. Thus, having this option forced us to think through more specific explanations for each category for authors and reviewers alike. So I’ll now move us through each of these categories.

Accept with Revisions

Manuscripts given this decision are viewed by both reviewers and editors as publishable with minor revisions (e.g., clarifications of terms and ideas, additional examples, stylistic changes, and additional transitions). If the suggested revisions are completed—preferably relatively quickly—the manuscript will be scheduled for publication.

Revisions Requested

Manuscripts given this decision are viewed as having strong promise for publication, and the editors and reviewers would very much like to see a revised manuscript. The revisions requested do not require the author(s) to re-envision the manuscript or re-shape it in some fundamental way, but rather to make significant changes to the existing argument and structure. To put it another way, the scope of requested revisions is between a major re-envisioning and minor revisions.

Resubmit for Review

While this decision can apply to manuscripts that vary in their readiness, it indicates that the editors and at least one reviewer see some promise in the manuscript and encourage a revision. This decision also indicates that the requested revision would entail a major re-envisioning and re-shaping of the manuscript’s approach and argument, such as the methodology, theoretical framework, analysis, or connection to RHM and other relevant scholarly conversations. In most cases, we will ask for a resubmission within 8 weeks in order to keep the manuscript in the review system rather than reject it. We advise authors who receive this decision and who wish to resubmit to speak with the editors about planned revisions that are based on the decision letter.

Reject

Manuscripts given this decision are viewed by the reviewers and editors as substantially underdeveloped, not making significant contributions to the field’s knowledge, and/or not appropriate or suited for the journal (given its stated focus and scope).

We ask our reviewers to complete the peer review process within 6-8 weeks. Once we get the reviews in, the editors discuss the reviews and write a decision letter. Our decision letters will summarize the reviews and point to the most salient areas that need attention.

When manuscripts come back that were asked to be revised, we attempt to send them out to the same reviewers. And the process is done in the same way again.

Now the process I just described is what happens to research articles. For dialogues, persuasion briefs, and review essays, these go through an expedited peer review process, which we’ll talk about in another video entry.

Finally, special issues. At most journals, special issues are totally controlled by the guest editors and the review process can vary tremendously. At RHM, special issue manuscripts will be reviewed in the same way outlined here. The only difference is that depending on the timing, the process may be compressed, but the same review process, pool of reviewers, and high quality and rigorous review will occur.

That sums up the review process at RHM. If you have questions about the review process or anything about the journal, please contact me or Blake at rhm dot journal dot editors at gmail dot com. We are always happy to talk with you.