What Should I Expect Once I've Submitted?
Upon submission, all unsolicited manuscripts are checked by journal office staff to confirm that they conform to the submission requirements, especially those pertaining to anonymization. If they do not, they will be returned to the author for the required changes. Properly anonymized initial submissions then go to the journal’s Editor, who carries out a first screening. Roughly half of the submissions are rejected without comments at that point.
Original Articles: Manuscripts that pass the Editor’s initial screening are sent, still anonymized, for a second screening, this time by an Associate Editor who handles the subject area of the manuscript. Some additional papers are rejected without comments at that point. Manuscripts that pass the second internal screening are sent for double-blind review to two outside reviewers. Submissions that receive two “reject” recommendations by the outside reviewers are rejected as a matter of policy; the Associate Editor handling the submission has no discretion about that decision. For submissions receiving any other combination of reviewer recommendations, the Associate Editor decides whether the manuscript should continue in the review process. Hardly any manuscripts are accepted outright at that point; almost all of the papers eventually accepted go through at least one round of revision and resubmission. Then, once the Associate Editor handling a submission decides that it is in good shape and has received adequate support from outside reviewers, the manuscript moves to the last stage of the review process, a vote by the Associate Editors. A significant proportion of the submissions that make it to the vote are rejected. Our overall acceptance rate for original articles is about 4%.
Discussion pieces: Ethics will review short pieces (6,000 words or less, including notes) that discuss articles that have appeared in Ethics. Those pieces are subject to an expedited review process, which normally dispenses with the second layer of screening. Those discussions not rejected at the initial screening are typically sent for double-blind review to two Associate Editors acting as reviewers. Discussion pieces are also not subject to the vote of all the Associate Editors prior to publication.
Revisions: Revised submissions are checked by the journal office staff to confirm that they conform to the submission requirements. The manuscript then goes to the handling editor who sometimes will request further revisions before the manuscript goes back to the reviewers. If at all possible, resubmissions will be sent to the same reviewers who reviewed the original version. Revised submissions often receive a decision in less than three months, but, because the original reviewers’ schedules may not make it possible for them to meet the usual deadline for reviewers’ reports, a decision in less than three months is not always possible. We find that it is in the interest of the author to wait for a report from an original reviewer, rather than seeking the opinion of another reviewer who may press new lines of objection on the author, which could lead to more stages of revision.
Review Procedure Timeline
Initial submissions that receive a rejection at the initial screening by the Editor will normally receive a decision within a month of submission. Submissions receiving a rejection by the Associate Editor will normally receive a decision within two months. For submissions that go to reviewers, our goal is to reach decisions within 3 months. Because it takes time to secure two suitable reviewers, the review process sometimes takes longer than three months. In cases when a manuscript is significantly delayed in the review process, the Editor or Associate Editor will contact the author. Resubmissions of manuscripts that were rejected with an invitation to resubmit sometimes receive a decision on the revised manuscript in less than three months. The editors request that authors not contact the journal office regarding the status of their manuscript if it has been less than three months since submission (or resubmission).
Specific details on our acceptance rates and our times to decision can be found in the editorial in the first issue of each volume. The most recent data is here.
Total time from initial submission to final publication
While the time from initial submission to final publication varies widely due to the speed of the outside reviewers, the number of rounds of revision required, and the amount of time the author spends working on revisions, the average length of time from initial submission to final acceptance is roughly 12–18 months. Most manuscripts are published within 6 months of final acceptance.
For information regarding the rights of Ethics authors, go to http://www.press.uchicago.edu/journals/et/rights.html?journal=et.