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4 ways we have improved the submission platform for our authors

Authors | Editors | Peer Review
4 ways we have improved the submission platform for our authors

These four improvements in Phenom will help deliver a seamless publishing experience.

In 2021 many changes were made to improve Phenom, our submission and peer review platform for authors.

Our product and technology team focussed their efforts on developing features that make the overall publication process more seamless for our authors, editors and reviewers. In particular, improving editor engagement and decreasing peer review turnaround times by making the platform more usable for all.

Here are some of the key improvements:

1. Editor Suggestion Tool

Find editors quickly with data-driven editor selection – the editor suggestion tool is now live across all our journals. This means that on every submitted manuscript, the data determines the most relevant editors, and the system sorts the list of editors from most to least relevant. Since introducing this tool, the average peer review turnaround time across all our journals has decreased from 74 days to 56 days in a year.

How does it work?

  • We partner with a company called Data Harmony to parse the content of the manuscript and extract subject-specific keywords.
  • These keywords are then matched to the editor’s work – the tool performs a Web of Science keyword matching search and uses this to build a database of each editor’s expertise.
  • Based on this matching exercise, a list of compatible editors is made available.

The results of the editor suggestion tool so far have been very positive. Papers can be assigned to engaged, suitably matched editors without delay, meaning editor declination rates are far lower and authors’ manuscripts receive a decision more quickly.

Author benefit: reduces the length of time your manuscript is in review, ensuring you receive a decision more quickly than ever before.

2. Expertise Keywords

In addition to the above, all of our editors now have access to an ‘Edit Your Expertise Keywords’ function in their user profile. Here, they can add keywords related to their knowledge and expertise, such as ‘Geosciences’, ‘Mathematics’, or ‘Engineering and Technology’. Editors can add as many keywords as necessary. When a paper is at the editor assignment stage, relevant keywords will be displayed alongside the editor’s name. This works in conjunction with our editor suggestion tool to ensure that the most appropriate editors are assigned to each manuscript.

Our triage editors (who are responsible for assigning papers to our handling editors), can quickly and easily match keywords to the title and abstract of the manuscript, without having to conduct external searches to assess suitability. This contributes to quicker turnaround times during peer review, and a higher engagement rate from our editors.

Author benefit: your manuscript is handled by an expert editor, ensuring a quicker turnaround time for your manuscript.

3. ROR IDs

In 2021, we started to collect Research Organization Registry Identifiers (ROR IDs) for all global affiliations and turned the affiliation field in our submission forms from a free text field to a drop-down menu of uniquely identified institutions.

What is the importance of ROR?

ROR is crucial in enriching the network of open identifiers that allow us to track research output across the publishing industry and lead us closer to a connected, open science infrastructure. We already use ORCID iDs and DOIs to track who is publishing research and what that research is, but ROR helps us identify where research is coming from.

When an author starts to type in their affiliation at submission, the tool will surface possible affiliation matches from ROR’s controlled list of institutions. This is a small implementation that could have a huge positive impact for our authors. ROR data will be useful for anyone who needs to track or collect institutional research outputs, including research administrators, funders, and institutional repositories.

Author benefit: ensures your manuscript is linked to your research organisation so that it can be tracked and shared as part of a connected and open science infrastructure.

4. Greater system stability

The stability of Phenom is getting better and better – we can now make continuous improvements to the system with less downtime. We can also run end-to-end testing more efficiently. As a result, your user requests are being responded to more frequently, making Phenom more functional for all our users.

Author benefit: a seamless and improved author experience when submitting your manuscript.

After introducing many system developments in 2021, we’re looking forward to developing Phenom further in 2022 and continually improving our authors’ publishing experience. Our product and technology team are currently working hard on establishing a more flexible editorial model, which means there will be opportunities to host new article types and broaden the scope of research that authors can publish with us. We shall share more updates as soon as they have been implemented.

Do you want to learn more about how to submit your paper?

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This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration by David Jury.

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