Have you ever sent out a paper you wrote to a journal, and you didn’t hear about the review for the better part of a year or even longer? We have.

Have you ever received a decision letter that left you wondering how to proceed? Perhaps that decision letter contained contradictory or irrational guidance. We have.

We designed the paper review system for ISI journals to overcome those and other problems with the journal peer review process. Instead of the old production model (reject defects), we at ISI journals use a continual process improvement model. While fewer than half of the papers submitted make it into print, we view our role as mentor to all authors, sharing with them our wisdom and the wisdom of our reviewers, to assist them to improve their submission. Most papers that we do publish undergo several rounds of revisions.

We also designed the system to avoid the problem of delayed reviewing of manuscripts. We endeavor to get back to authors with our initial assessment within two months of their submission. To do this, we have abandoned the model of asking Editors and Reviewers to accept assignments. Editorial board members are expected to accept their assignment. (See below for how to set periods of non-availability.)

You, as Editor, are vital to these improvements. They entail that you, the Editor, interact with authors in new and better ways. This manual is to get us all on the same page, to inform you about the ISI philosophy of the paper review process, and to share with you how to use the ISI Paper Review automated system so you can to do your part.

The ISI philosophy

As an Editor for an ISI journal, your principal role is as a mentor to the author and the reviewers; that is, you are a key person in carrying out the mentoring that makes ISI one of the most constructive forces in higher education.

Your crucial role is that of an agent for improving research and researchers. While other journals just ask for gatekeepers, your role is of a guide. While other journals ask for referees, your role is of the coach. In ISI, we all give each other a helping hand. Reviewers mentor authors, Editors mentor reviewers and authors, and Editors-in-Chief mentor their editors.

This document is organized to give you first a quick view of your role and then to provide details on how to do the tasks of an Editor.

If you have questions about editorial issues, ask the journal’s Editor-in-Chief or Associate Editor-in-Chief. If you have questions about how to use the system not covered here, ask the Managing Editor.