Skip to main content

Advertisement

Making a decision

Editors are responsible for making manuscript decisions based upon reviewer reports and their own reading of the manuscript. In the majority of cases, at least two reports will be received which are broadly in agreement, making it possible to assess reviewer comments easily and reach a straightforward decision.

When should I reject a manuscript?

When rejecting a manuscript, whether before or after peer review, we consider it important to provide authors with reasons for rejection and feedback that can be used to improve their work in the future.

  • If there are concerns regarding the soundness of the study that cannot be addressed or revisions would amount to an entirely new study, the manuscript should be rejected without an invitation to resubmit.
  • If reviewers request extensive revisions to be made before a manuscript is accepted and these would take longer than three months to complete, then the manuscript can be rejected with the opportunity to resubmit.

Is another journal more appropriate?

If a manuscript is judged to be out of scope for a journal or if the results do not meet the criteria of a selective journal but appear to be sound, we offer a transfer service to another journal within Springer Nature. You can find out more about transfers here.

However, you can proactively choose to reject a manuscript without transfer for any reason. You always have the option to reject without transfer.

When should I request revisions?

You should request a revision if you feel the manuscript is likely to be acceptable for publication after some changes and modifications. The authors will be sent the comments of the reviewers and Editor and asked to revise accordingly.

If the scale of revisions means that the authors would need a long period of time and the manuscript would need extensive reworking, it may be suitable to reject the manuscript but invite the authors to resubmit. The original file will be closed and the authors can resubmit a new manuscript in the future. This can encourage more extensive revision and also avoids keeping files open for long periods of time, or indefinitely, should the authors be unable to complete the necessary revisions.

Which reviewer requests are acceptable?

When contacting authors, you are encouraged to write a brief paragraph mentioning anything you would particularly like them to focus on when revising their manuscript.

Further experiments may be needed to support the claims in the manuscript, but although these may  be ideal, they may not be essential for the paper itself. If additional data are requested by the reviewers, please state clearly in your summary which points are essential for the soundness of the manuscript. A manuscript could be suitable for publication even if it doesn’t reach the ‘gold standard’, especially if authors can discuss the limitations of their work as an alternative. It may be possible for authors to avoid over-interpreting their results and to highlight where further work is needed rather than produce further experiments, validation or controls.

Who checks author revisions?

If you recommend revisions on a manuscript you will be notified once the revised manuscript is resubmitted. At that stage, you should decide whether the manuscript may be accepted without re-review or whether you need further advice from the original reviewers.

If you feel that re-review is required, it can save time to ask original reviewers to feedback on any specific points you are unsure about.

How many revisions should be allowed?

We would normally allow authors to make only two rounds of revision to avoid a lengthy peer-review process, which can become frustrating for authors and reviewers alike. 

If further small revisions need to be made or a manuscript needs copy-editing, we can offer a third revision period. If a manuscript still needs extensive reworking we would recommend rejection with an invitation to resubmit once the revisions have been made. If further revisions would not make the manuscript acceptable, it should be rejected without an offer to resubmit.

What if a decision is not straightforward?

When reviewers disagree in their assessment of the work, you may be able to reach a decision without seeking further advice by considering the expertise of the reviewers. We ask that you read the concerns that reviewers raise and be aware that one reviewer may highlight an issue not raised by another due to differing expertise in a particular subject matter.

It is not unusual to be able to reach a straightforward decision (even if reviewers have opposing views) by taking into account your own knowledge of the subject area and interpretation of the manuscript, together with the expertise of the reviewers. However, if you are still unsure how to proceed it may be necessary to seek further advice from an independent third reviewer or request that another member of the editorial team or Editorial Board adjudicate the conflicting reports.

If the authors have already revised in response to initial reviews, it is preferable to seek further advice on specific points of disagreement only, rather than seeking a whole new report from an independent third reviewer.

What if there are ethical concerns?

If there are any concerns with regard to the ethical framework of the research (such as a lack of participant consent, lack of ethical approval for the work, or concerns that the severity of the experiments carried out is not justified by the value of the knowledge gained) or possible research or author misconduct, please raise these with your journal contact as soon as possible and before making your editorial decision. For further information please consult our editorial policies.

If you need any extra information, or wish to discuss any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

What if there are language concerns?

We aim to support authors who may struggle to get good results published because their written English or the presentation of their results is not of a sufficient standard. We do not, therefore, encourage rejection of a manuscript on the basis of the standard of English alone, unless it is of very poor quality or the authors have had an opportunity to improve the manuscript but have not met the required standard.  At the same time, Editors and reviewers should not be expected to copy edit the language themselves. Instead, we recommend that Editors advise authors to make improvements to the English language as part of their revisions or before sending for review, if necessary.

To assist authors in addressing language concerns, we have collated free resources and advice on how to prepare the language in their manuscript. Authors can also use any reputable English language editing service, such as those provided by our affiliates Nature Research Editing Service and American Journal Experts. BMC authors are entitled to a 10% discount on their first submission to either of these services. Please note that the use of an editing service is at the author's own expense, and is neither a requirement nor a guarantee of publication.