Journal Submission Systems: The love-hate relationship
Updated: Oct 29, 2021
Are they Marmite?
We’ve all experienced the various web-based systems available to manage submissions for scholarly journals. No matter what our role is in working with a submission system, we will undoubtedly have a story to tell about our experience.
Journal submission systems: they divide opinions like Marmite!
Should we hate them?
Submitting a manuscript can be challenging. The process can cause considerable irritation for authors who are just trying to get their work published. They need to follow submission guidelines, ensure the formatting is correct, find a suitable journal and then send their manuscript to the editor.
The system that authors must navigate through can be seen as needlessly complex and difficult. After years of research, planning, and writing, authors can easily fall at the last hurdle.
But (bear with me while I play devil’s advocate) some powerful capabilities are lurking beneath these systems, which are often hidden from the user. The full potential is therefore lost to those who need it and could benefit from it.
Should we love them?
Just for a moment, let’s take a step back in time.
At PA EDitorial, some of our team have worked on journals since the ‘90s. Submissions were sent via snail mail – three copies of each – one for the editor and two for reviewers.
And there were days when editorial assistants would have to manually anonymise the manuscripts, cutting out names with scissors and sending two copies out to reviewers without the ability to ask in advance if they had the time.
We have come a long way since paper submissions!
With the above in mind, web-based systems are convenient. They can be accessed from almost anywhere in the world via a unique log in. This provides authors, reviewers, and editors with much more flexibility, along with the ability to push submissions through the system at a faster rate than ever – hurrah!
Without these valuable systems, journals would not have accommodated the volumes of submissions we now experience. Undoubtedly, the ability to automate and customise peer review workflows and to remove paper-based processes saves time and resources, creating a more efficient journey for us all.
But which one is best?
Publishers use several submission systems; the three most common ones are:
· ScholarOne 
· Editorial Manager 
· Manuscript Manager 
Our responses to these systems are just as personal and divided as they are to the overall subject of submission systems. We will love and hate them with equal passion and gusto!
But the question of which one is best depends on our requirements; they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Each system allows for automation and, therefore, less human intervention (and possibly less chance of human error), plus a more rapid review process.
· Authors, editors, and reviewers can submit, access their manuscript status, and perform assigned tasks from anywhere in the world at their chosen time.
· Editorial staff can process submissions within a faster time frame with the availability of bespoke and automated workflows.
Author files, correspondence, and user information are all saved in one system and fully searchable. There is no need to maintain separate records, saving time and effort.
But like all other systems, they all have their idiosyncrasies.
I imagine we have all wanted to take certain features from across the systems and package them into one perfect bundle that will search out and destroy the Marmite effect. If only we could…
Submission systems work to assist the process, not hinder. Like all tools, there will be frustrations, but these systems have given us the opportunity to work more efficiently, with greater results.
With the research world always evolving, the systems are continually updated with new releases, often driven by user feedback. As research changes, so do the systems we love and hate.
How we help
At PA EDitorial, we have many years of experience working with journals and their submission systems. Our team have a wealth of knowledge and take every opportunity to train on the aspects of these systems.
We have an in-house tiered support network, meaning if one person doesn’t know the answer, we’re sure to find someone internally that does. We have seen these systems grow and work with journals to ensure they assist each contributor along the way.
We provide training to editorial assistants and editors and when we are working on a specific journal, do everything possible to make lives easier for all journal contributors, even if that means we go above and beyond the call of duty.
If you or your journal need support, we would love to hear from you, especially if you have a journal that requires some additional management or if you would like some training.
We have recently introduced a new service, EDiTech, delivering bespoke packages to enable a high-quality, consistent service through one point of contact. This service provides full peer review management, project work and technical checking.
Please do contact us at info@PAEDitorial.co.uk for more details on how we can support you.
 Editorial Manager
 Manuscript Manager