What article statuses at journals mean?

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In our August “how can we help you?” thread, a non-tt faculty member asks:

Does anyone have a good understanding of what article statuses, e.g. initial check or awaiting associate editor recommendation mean? I think some are fairly self-evident in retrospect, but when I first started submitting to journals I was quite confused and anxious.

I think, of course, the best thing to do is to not check article status every hour, but some general answers may be helpful to people like my former self.

My experience is that different journals often have somewhat different article status processes, but here are a few that I can recall offhand along with what I think they mean:

Initial checking –> article is with the managing editor, who makes sure the article is fully anonymized, within the journal’s word limit, etc.
Reviewers contacted –> the editors are trying to find reviewers
Under review –> some journals seem to use this for every stage of peer review.
Awaiting reviewer scores –> self-explanatory
Reviews completed –> self-explanatory
With editor –> this may occur early in the review process, indicating the article is under desk review by relevant editor(s), who are deciding whether to send the paper to reviewers; but it may also occur after reviewer scores are received, indicating the editor is in the process of reading their reports and making a decision.
Awaiting associate editor recommendation –> referee reports are completed, and the journal has some associate editor(s) decide on the basis of the reports (and their own reading of the paper?) whether to recommend acceptance, rejection, etc., to the Editor in Chief/Editorial Board.

It’s also worth noting that sometimes papers can go from “reviews completed” to “with editor” (or some such) back to “Under review.” This may happen, I think, if the reviewers were split and the editor is seeking out a third reviewer to break the tie. But really, I’m only speculating there, and like the OP I generally prefer not to check my article statuses very often (I don’t find it very productive, though if a paper has been under review for several months, I may check in to see where things are at).

Do any readers (particularly journal editors) have any inside insights to share on what article statuses mean (and what’s going on behind the scenes)?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More

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