Paper editing for editors, reviewers and authors
posted on January 4, 2016

This writeup is reflecting my own current thinking about editing, not that of PLOS or any other publisher. I wrote it very quickly, so it will only become meaningful after I get feedback from a couple of people. Feedback invited via email or to @kordinglab.

Outcomes of the overall edit process

The outcome of the review process usually falls into one of four categories:

The paper is both relevant enough and correct enough to be printed as submitted. The paper is now going to the production department.

Minor revisions
The paper is relevant enough and correct enough the be printed as submitted, but there are a number of simple things that should be corrected before final acceptance. The paper will, after a minor revision, be seen by the editor who will generally decide if the authors have been doing a decent job and will not send it out to the reviewers. Of course, if the authors are lazy and do not do the minor changes they should do the editor will rightly get angry at them and might treat it like the response to a major revisions outcome.

Major revisions The paper could in principle be strong enough for the journal and with significant work be made sufficiently correct for publication. It might also be rejected if the asked for changes can not be done or the authors do not want to do them. It can also ultimately be rejected if as the result of clarifications in the process the reviewer/editor finds out that the paper is too insignificant or cannot be corrected. Major revisions almost invariably implies that additional experiments/analysis are necessary.

Reject The paper is either too insignificant to be published in the journal, or the approach is sufficiently misguided that even extensive improvements can not get the paper above the publications bar.

The role of the reviewer: relevant?, correct?, and improvements

The reviewer provides three things.

How Editors make decisions based on reviewer comments

Who should review a paper

Correctness versus relevance