How Our Review Process Works

What is the scientific review process?

Whenever scientists want to publish their research, they submit a scientific manuscript to an academic journal. The manuscript is then “reviewed” by three other scientists. These scientists provide feedback on the manuscript and help decide if the conclusions drawn from the results are believable and if the conclusions are important to the scientific field. The journal editor then uses these reviewer comments to decide if the manuscript should be published in the journal, and if so, what improvements must be made before publication. Thus, the scientific review process is essentially a filter that helps ensure the quality of published scientific data.

What are the goals of the JEI review process?

Similar to a standard peer-reviewed journal, the review process ensures the quality of published data and prepares the manuscript for publishing. However, the JEI review process is unique because it targets middle and high school students. Our review process is designed to help teach the students how to perform hypothesis driven research and how to present that research as a scientific manuscript.

How does the JEI review process work?

Flowchart describing the Review Process at JEI

Once a manuscript is submitted, it will be assigned to a team of JEI editors and start the review process. The review process is composed of four distinct steps.

(1) Pre-Review (2 weeks)

Writing a scientific manuscript is not easy, especially the first time! In this first step, JEI will provide guidance in science manuscript writing. The JEI Editors will read the manuscript and decide if the formatting and presentation are correct for a scientific manuscript. If so, the manuscript will proceed to the second step of the review process. If not, the editors will provide suggestions to improve the formatting, presentation, and style of the manuscript. Suggestions could include what kind of information should be presented in each section of the manuscript (introduction, results, etc.) and how to best present the results in concise, easy-to-understand figures.

(2) Scientific Review (6-8 weeks)

The JEI Editors will assign the manuscripts to three JEI Reviewers. The reviewers are PhD candidates who work in research labs, often in scientific fields related your manuscript. These reviewers will read the manuscript and use their expertise to provide suggestions to improve the manuscript. Most importantly, these suggestions will address the quality of the scientific project. Are the results and conclusions believable? If not, what additional controls and/or experiments would address these issues? In addition, the suggestions will also address the scientific manuscript itself. Is data interpreted correctly? Is the scientific writing concise and clear?

The JEI editors will use the reviewer comments to make a list of changes that must be made prior to publication. These comments are designed to both improve the manuscript and to help teach the students about their project! Based on the type and extent of the required revisions, the manuscript will be assigned to one of the following three classes:

  • Accept pending presentation changes: The manuscript requires changes to the scientific manuscript itself. For example, it may require changes in the scientific writing or reinterpretation of the scientific data. Manuscripts with presentation revisions are expected to be resubmitted within 4 weeks after receiving this recommendation.
  • Accept pending scientific & presentation changes: The manuscript requires additional experiments to be performed to support the conclusions. Manuscripts with scientific revisions have no deadline for resubmission. The resubmitted manuscript will be sent out for a second round of review.
  • Reject: In rare cases, a manuscript will not be suitable for publication in JEI. For example, a manuscript will be rejected if the reviewers discover scientific plagiarism in the manuscript. If the authors make the requested changes, the manuscript may enter the review process.

3) Copy-Editing (4 weeks)

When a manuscript is nearly ready for publication, the editors and copy-editors will read the manuscript in detail and provide minor suggestions to improve the clarity, formatting, and presentation of the manuscript. The manuscript will be sent back to the authors once more to make the necessary changes to the text. Once this is complete, the manuscript will be ready to proceed to the final stage!

4) PDF Proofing (2 weeks)

In this stage, your manuscript will be formatted into a professional layout with your figures and tables inserted into appropriate places in the text. Once the PDF proof is generated it will be sent to you for your final approval. After the minor errors are corrected, it will be published on the JEI website!

How long does it take to publish a manuscript in JEI?

The time to publications varies greatly depending on how long it takes for the authors to revise and resubmit their manuscripts, how many rounds of Scientific Review the manuscript goes through, and also how many submissions we receive around the same time. Summer and Fall tends to be a busy period for JEI and it may take extra time for our editors to work on the manuscript.

Assuming that a manuscript goes through one round of Scientific Review and the authors resubmit their revised manuscripts within 4 weeks from receiving the Decision Letter (both for Scientific Review and Copy Editing), it will take about 5-6 months from initial submission to the publication on our website. Of course, the authors can expedite this process by submitting the revisions more promptly.