One of the key responsibilities of editorial board members is to define article selection criteria. These criteria may change over time depending on the editors’ research interests, social or cultural changes in the publishing landscape, emerging guidelines as well as new discoveries.
The journal should keep article selection criteria up to date and present them in plain language: clarity and transparency of presentation will help the editors deal with potential complaints, appeals and allegations.
The following table outlines common areas that should be included in a journal’s article selection criteria. It should be noted that selection criteria apply to both peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed submissions, and key differences between these should be outlined clearly as part of the journal’s guidance.
|Fit with the journal’s scope, aims and focus|
|Fit with accepted content types|
|Contribution to the field|
|Alignment with ethics expectations and integrity standards|| |
Once a journal receives a submission, this is typically reviewed by the editorial team. Initial checks might be delivered by less senior team members, if appropriate, including basic metadata entered via the submission system as well as the completeness of the submission (e.g. appropriate file format, submission of images and tables, submission of evidence of ethical approval). The submission is then handed over to an editor for a formal decision to accept the submission for peer review or to desk reject. When desk rejecting a submission, the editorial team may provide feedback to the author(s), potentially including a recommendation to resubmit after addressing gaps or misalignment with the journal’s scope, aims and focus.
The management of research ethics is a crucial task for academic journals. Clear processes must be in place to identify and handle ethical concerns and these should be available on the journal’s website. COPE recommends that journals develop guidelines for authors, reviewers, as well as procedures for editors to identify ethical concerns and respond to them appropriately. The management of research ethics starts at the article submission stage, but needs to be considered during peer review as well as after publication, in cases where concerns are raised.
- Heidari, S., Babor, T. F., De Castro, P., Tort, S., & Curno, M. (2016). Sex and Gender Equity in Research: Rationale for the SAGER guidelines and recommended use. Research Integrity and Peer Review, 1(1), 2.
- COPE. (2022). Ethics toolkit for a successful editorial office. COPE: Committee on Publication Ethics.
- BMJ author hub. (n.d.). The review process.