Exploring the Benefits of Peer Review

If you’re new to the world of publishing your discoveries, trying to figure out the process can be a daunting task. Just selecting a journal to which you should submit your work can be a lot of work.To help researchers sort through their options, a new service from American Journal Experts was recently announced [1]. There are publisher and journal reputations—largely based on visibility and selectivity—to consider, as well as selecting a journal that specializes in publishing in your research niche. This latter can be particularly important to new scientists, as publishing in a specialized journal makes your work highly visible to others in your specialty and can lead to networking and collaborative opportunities.

Another important aspect to consider is the speed of publication. This may be a deciding factor for a researcher choosing a journal, especially because many journals prohibit simultaneous submission to multiple publishers. In this age of competition, there’s a very high chance that other researchers are exploring ideas similar to yours at the same time. In that case, ownership of an idea is often attributed to the idea that’s published first. ACS is proud to be one of the fastest submission-to-publication publishers, with an average publication time of about 12 weeks across the portfolio, spanning letters, articles, and reviews journals.[2]

Why does it take 12 weeks to publish my work once it’s submitted?

Many authors don’t realize how many steps lie between submitting and publishing a manuscript. It goes beyond the process of editors (and reviewers) making decisions, and the article appearing online. Between hitting the submit button and a finished paper being posted online, at least nine different people are involved in processing the paper. Some are employees of the publisher and others are members of the community, who are involved via the peer review process.

When a manuscript is submitted, it first must be reviewed by the Editor-in-Chief or Deputy Editor to ensure that the paper fits the journal’s scope. From that point, the paper is in the hands of the Associate Editor. Typically, someone who is specialized in an area closely related to the topic of the paper, the Associate Editor evaluates the science and determines if peer review is warranted.

Several subject area experts are invited to review the paper, following which feedback is provided to the authors regarding potential improvements, along with a publication recommendation for the Associate Editor. You can learn more about what to expect from a peer review process by taking our free online course, ACS Reviewer Lab.

After this review step, the Associate Editor decides whether to accept or decline the paper. Sometimes, the paper is returned to the author for adjustment before the Associate Editor makes a final decision. Other times, the first decision is the end of the peer review process and the paper proceeds to the Production Team for technical editing and layout. Learn more about that process.

The scientists in my workgroup all reviewed my work before I submitted it. Why do you have to do a peer review?

Reputable publishers earned their reputations by making sure that the science is judged by multiple experts in the field, people that can be as objective as possible, rather than relying on an author’s and Editor’s judgment alone. These experts also provide the author with quality feedback. In this way, the peer review process always improves the manuscript, be it the science or in communicating a particular idea.

Learn more about the publication process

Order our free educational poster series and we’ll ship you a set of four posters for your library, or you can download them to print in a size that fits your needs. The topics include peer review, technical editing and layout, free ACS programs and training for students and researchers, and the benefits ACS offers to authors­—such as our Manuscript Transfer Service, which minimizes downtime between submissions to different journals.

Planning to publish soon?

Educate yourself about potentially predatory journals. There are great resources available to learn about the downsides of not being diligent in  The Scholarly Kitchen, The New York Times, and even Wikipedia

[1]  American Journal Experts launches new journal recommendation service for authors. Society for Scholarly Publishing [Online], 2018. https://www.sspnet.org/community/news/american-journal-experts-launches-new-journal-recommendation-service-for-authors/ (Accessed April 17, 2018).
[2]  Powell, K. Does it take too long to publish research? Nature, 2016, 530, 148–151.

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