Page 56 - Summer2017
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Need for Speed
 The second piece of the process, assign- ing an AE, was one that took a little more work to address. Traditionally, AEs were invited/requested (not “assigned” per se) to handle a MS by the MS manager. The assignment of an AE was based on the Physics and Astronomy Classifica- tion Scheme (PACS) numbers and key- words that an author attached to the MS. However, due to the increasing techni- cal diversity and specialization of JASA over the years, getting “just the right AE” became harder for a nontechnical per- son simply using codes and keywords. This caused a relatively high number of “declines” by AEs and thus delays un- til an appropriate AE could be found.
Figure 1. Flow diagram of the publication processes of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA) for manuscript (MS) submissions that undergo review, along with time to first decision of some other journals relevant to the Psychological and Physiological Acoustics (P&P) audience. Red arrow, new role of the coordinat- ing editor (CE); blue text, time gained (averages) since the inception of the CE/man- aging editor (ME) program. Time frames compared are from September 15, 2015, to July 31, 2016 (pre-CE) to August 1, 2016, to November 10, 2016 (post-CE). The flow diagram was first presented at the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) meeting in Salt Lake City by Adrian KC Lee. JARO, Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology; JEP-HPP, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Percep- tion and Performance; PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America; AIPP, American Institute of Physics Publishing; AE, associate editor.
A solution to this, which has been im-
plemented over the last year, is to have a
coordinating editor (CE) from each TC
recommend appropriate AEs from his/her TC and then have the EIC/ME look over the recommendations, tak- ing into account the workload of AEs, and then start the editor invitation process. So far, 10 of ASA’s 13 TCs have joined this program, with the rest due to sign on soon. There has been a considerable (~11 days faster on average) speedup of the time to AE acceptance due to this program.
The next step is the time it takes an AE to invite review- ers. We ask our AEs to start inviting reviewers (or re- ject a submission) within a week of agreeing to handle a MS as an editor. Thanks to our new ME keeping track of this more carefully, our average time for the first re- viewer invitation came down from six days to three days.
Although the review process is “out of our hands” in some ways, we do keep close watch on the time in re- view and send reminders and other communications to the editors, both automatically through the EM sys- tem and personally via the ME. Our increased atten- tion and communication has resulted in an average re- view time of 39 days as opposed to 51 days previously. This is well within our expected bounds (30 days for re- view, with 14 “grace days”). We feel we can improve this even further and are considering various possibilities.
Once the reviews are complete, we ask for an AE’s deci- sion within seven days. Before our ME and CEs came onboard, the average time for this was eight days.
However, we have been very successful, thanks to our staffing changes, to having this fall to three days.
Once the first decision has been made, the author is given 60 days for the first revision, as mentioned. Our average number to get an “R1” resubmission is actu- ally 48 days, well within our current expectations. We are planning on examining the revision process for possible improvement in the future and are encourag- ing authors to return their revisions as fast as possible.
At this point, there is one more item to discuss with regard to the processing steps we “own.” Specifically, we have not talked about the variance in time of the processes. With- out adding another full statistical discussion, let us just say that the variances have also come down substantially and, particularly, the “long tails” of the time distributions for the processes, which represent unduly delayed MSs. Elim- ination of excessive delays in any part of the process is es- pecially important because such delays lead to unhappy authors who may be lost as future authors and also tend to spread negative publicity. We would rather keep our au- thors and have them attract others to our journal!
5. As mentioned before, our peer-review system provider, Aries Systems, Inc., and our publisher, AIPP, provide pieces of the process that we do not directly control. How- ever, we still interact with these vendors significantly, and in ways we very much do control. With both Aries
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