The following is the editorial workflow that every manuscript submitted to the journal undergoes during the course of the review process.
Once a manuscript is submitted, the Editor-in-Chief of the journal inspects the submitted manuscript. If the Editor-in-Chief determines that the manuscript is not of sufficient quality to go through the normal review process or if the subject of the manuscript is not appropriate to the journal scope, the Editor-in-Chief rejects the manuscript with no further processing.
If the Editor-in-Chief determines that the submitted manuscript is of sufficient quality and falls within the scope of the journal, he/she sends the manuscript to one of the journal's Associate Editors, who manages the peer-review process for the manuscript. The Associate Editor can decide, after inspecting the submitted manuscript, that it should be rejected without further processing. Otherwise, the Associate Editor assigns the manuscript to one or more external reviewers for peer-review. These external reviewers may or may not be from the list of potential reviewers suggested by the authors of the manuscript. The reviewers submit their reports on the manuscripts along with their recommendation of one of the following actions to the Associate Editor:
- Publish Unaltered
- Publish after Minor Changes
- Review Again after Major Changes
- Reject: Manuscript is flowed or not sufficiently novel
When all reviewers have submitted their reports, the Associate Editor can make one of the following editorial recommendations to the Editor-in-Chief:
- Publish Unaltered
- Review Again after Minor Changes
- Review Again after Major Changes
If the Associate Editor recommends “Publish Unaltered,” the Editor-in-Chief is notified so he/she can inspect the manuscript and the review reports. The Editor-in-Chief can either override the Associate Editor's recommendation in which case the manuscript is rejected or approve the Associate Editor's recommendation in which case the manuscript is accepted for publication.
If the Associate Editor recommends “Review Again after Minor Changes,” the Editor-in-Chief is notified of the recommendation so he/she can inspect the manuscript and the review reports. If the Editor-in-Chief overrides the Associate Editor's recommendation, the manuscript is rejected. If the Editor-in-Chief approves the Associate Editor's recommendation, the authors are notified to prepare and submit a final copy of their manuscript with the required minor changes suggested by the reviewers. Only the Associate Editor, and not the external reviewers, reviews the revised manuscript after the minor changes have been made by the authors. Once the Associate Editor is satisfied with the final manuscript, the manuscript can be accepted.
If the Associate Editor recommends “Review Again after Major Changes,” the recommendation is communicated to the authors. The authors are expected to revise their manuscripts in accordance with the changes recommended by the reviewers and to submit their revised manuscript in a timely manner. Once the revised manuscript is submitted, the original reviewers are contacted with a request to review the revised version of the manuscript. Along with their review reports on the revised manuscript, the reviewers make a recommendation which can be “Publish Unaltered” or “Publish after Minor Changes” or “Reject.” The Associate Editor can then make an editorial recommendation which can be “Publish Unaltered” or “Review Again after Minor Changes” or “Reject.”
If the Associate Editor recommends rejecting the manuscript, the rejection is immediate. Also, if two of the reviewers recommend rejecting the manuscript, the rejection is immediate.
The editorial workflow gives the Editor-in-Chief the authority to reject any manuscript because of inappropriateness of its subject, lack of quality, or incorrectness of its results; it also gives the Associate Editors similar authority over those manuscripts assigned to them by the Editor-in-Chief. However, only the Editor-in-Chief can approve a manuscript for publication, whereas Associate Editors recommend manuscripts for acceptance to the Editor-in-Chief. Recommendation of acceptance has to be approved by the Editor-in-Chief first before publication.
The Editor-in-Chief can neither assign himself/herself as an Associate Editor nor as a reviewer. The Associate Editor cannot assign himself/herself as a reviewer of the manuscript. This is to ensure a high-quality, fair, and unbiased peer-review process of every manuscript submitted to the journal, since any manuscript must be recommended by one or more (usually two or more) external reviewers, an Associate Editor, and the Editor-in-Chief before acceptance for publication.
The name of the Associate Editor recommending the manuscript for publication is published with the manuscript to indicate and acknowledge their invaluable contribution to the peer-review process and the indispensability of their contributions to the running of the journals.
The peer-review process is single blinded, i.e., the reviewers know who the authors of the manuscript are, but the authors do not have access to the information of who the peer-reviewers are. Every journal published by arpa has an acknowledgement page for the researchers who have performed the peer-review process for one or more of the journal manuscripts in the past year. Without the significant contributions made by these researchers, the publication of the journal would not be possible.