A recent submission to (and rejection from) Psychological Science has provided me with enough information on the editorial process, via Manuscript Central, to blog a follow-up to my Elsevier Editorial System blog of 2011. (I’m not the only person who is making public their manuscript statuses either, see also Guanyang Zhang’s original and most recent posts.)

Psychological Science Decision

Below is the chronology for the status updates a submission from my lab received from Psychological Science. As stated in the confirmation-of-submission letter received from the Editor-in-Chief, the process of obtaining a first decision should take up to 8 weeks from initial submission.


  • “Awaiting Initial Review Evaluation” – 09/01/2013: The manuscript is submitted and awaits triage, where it is read by two members of the editorial team. An email is sent to the corresponding author from the Editor-in-Chief. The triage process takes up to two weeks and determines whether or not the manuscript will go out for full review.

Full Review

  • “Awaiting Reviewer Selection” – 22/01/2013: An email is sent to the corresponding author from the Editor-in-Chief informing them that the manuscript has passed the triage initial review process. The extended review process is stated as lasting 6-8 weeks from receipt of this email.
  • “Awaiting Reviewer Assignment” – 28/01/2013
  • “Awaiting Reviewer Invitation” – 28/01/2013
  • “Awaiting Reviewer Assignment” – 29/01/2013
  • “Awaiting Reviewer Selection” – 29/01/2013: I may have missed some status updates here. Essentially, I think these status updates reflect the Associate Editor inviting reviewers to review the manuscript and the reviewers choosing whether or not to accept the invitation.
  • “Awaiting Reviewer Scores” – 05/02/2013: The reviewers have agreed to review the manuscript and the Manuscript Central review system awaits their reviews.
  • “Awaiting AE Decision” – 15/03/2013: The reviewers have submitted their reviews, which the Associate Editor uses to make a decision about the manuscript
  • “Decline” – 16/03/2013: An email is sent to the corresponding author from the Associate Editor informing them of the decision and providing feedback from the reviewers.

The whole process took just under ten weeks, so not quite within the 8 week estimate that the initial confirmation-of-submission email suggested.

It’s a shame that I can’t blog the status updates post-acceptance, but the final status update is supposedly what 89% of submissions to Psychological Science will end with. Onwards.

If you’re trying to decide on a journal to submit your latest manuscript to, Jane – the Journal/Author Name Estimator, can point you in the right direction. This isn’t exactly breaking news, but it’s worth a reminder.

To use Jane, copy and paste your title and/or abstract into Jane into the text box and click “Find journals”. Using a similarity index with all Medline-indexed publications from the past 10 years, Jane will spit out a list journals worth considering. Alongside a confidence score, which summarises your text’s similarity to other manuscripts published in that journal, you’re also provided with an citation-based indication of that journal’s influence within the field.


The other available searches are the “Find articles” and the “Find authors” search, the last of which I suspect I would use if I were an editor with no idea about whom to send an article to for review. As an author, it’s worth running abstracts through these searches too to make sure you don’t miss any references or authors you definitely ought to cite in your manuscript.

There’s more information on Jane from the Biosemantics Group here: http://biosemantics.org/jane/faq.php.

A recent submission to the Journal of Memory and Language, an Elsevier journal has made my hyper-aware of how the way a manuscript’s progress through the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) is indicated.  For future reference, I’ve summarised the story-so-far for a recently revised and resubmitted manuscript.  (The worst thing for a compulsive checker like me is that you’re not e-mailed about changes in status, you have to login to the EES and check to see whether the ‘Status Date’ or the ‘Current Status’ has changed.  Every few weeks you get that variable-ratio reinforcement that just reinforces your maladaptive checking behaviour!)

I’m not sure if the ‘Current Status’ stages I list below are universal for all Elsevier journals, or even for all manuscripts within the the Journal of Memory and Language, but here’s what I’ve been through so far.  (Elsevier have a few more details on some of these statuses here: http://support.elsevier.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/160/~/paper-lifecycle-from-submission-to-publication)


  • “Submission Being Processed” – 16/11/2010: The manuscript is submitted and an e-mail is sent to the corresponding author with EES login details.  The manuscript is assigned to an editor by the journal office staff.
  • “With Editor” – 18/11/2010 (estimated): Presumably an editor makes sure the thing is worthy of being sent out for review and identifies appropriate reviewers.
  • “Under Review” – 24/11/2010: The peer review process starts.
  • “Required Reviews Completed” – 24/12/2010: The manuscript is sent back for an editorial decision.
  • “Revise” – 1/1/2011: E-mail sent to the corresponding author indicating the editorial decision.

Revision 1

  • “Revisions Being Processed” – 20/1/2011: The manuscript is resubmitted and another e-mail is sent to the corresponding author
  • “With Editor” – 20/1/2011: Presumably the editor makes sure the thing is worthy of being sent out for review again…
  • “Accept” – 5/2/2011: or accepts the revised manuscript without a second peer-review.
  • Completed” – 8/2/2011: I don’t know what this stage means.  Maybe it’s an acknowledgement of my receipt of the decision letter.  Incidentally, there are now two additional visible columns: “Date Final Disposition Set” (Feb 08, 2011); and “Final Disposition” (Accept).


At this point the submission gets closed on the Elsevier Editorial System and gets moved onto an author tracking system (http://authors.elsevier.com).  One of the most important developments is the assignment of a DOI – it’s doesn’t go live until the proofs have been created, but it ‘s assigned and can be used to link to the article in the future. From now onwards, e-mail notifications seem to arrive with every change in status.

  • Expected despatch of proofs notification – 10/02/2011: A date for receipt of manuscript proofs (the journal-formatted pdf) is assigned.
  • Return of “Journal Publishing Agreement”, “Funding Body Agreement” and “Order Offprints” forms requested – 10/2/2011: A link to these forms is e-mailed and they can be completed and submitted online.  This makes a great change from the procedure of having to get snail-mail signatures from all authors, which is a real pain if collaborating with people at multiple institutions.  Once submitted, the status comment changes to…
  • Status comment changed to Publication date not yet known – 10/2/2011
  • Uncorrected Proofs made available and return with corrections requested within 48 hours – 18/2/2011 (Consistent with the tracking system information): This was done through the elsevier.sps.co.in/authorproofs/ website.
  • Status comment changed to No further corrections can now be made – 19/02/2011: ‘Proofs returned’ row also added, with the same 19/02/2011 date.  DOI link still dead and manuscript is still not yet available on the ‘Articles in Press’ section of the JML section of the ScienceDirect website.
  • PDF made available as an ‘Articles in Press’  – 02/03/2011: But the DOI link still doesn’t work.
  • DOI link made functional – 08/03/2011.
  • Article published in print journal – 05/2011.