Invitation to Submit a Manuscript for Peer Review: What Should Authors Do?

Authors on campus report they are receiving emails inviting them to submit a manuscript for peer review. Some invitations may be from credible journals; others may be from unscrupulous journals seeking to exploit authors. In most instances, an invited publication is solicited by one’s peers and known colleagues, and from an established journal.

If you receive an email and do not recognize the sender or the journal, some warning signs that might guide your decision are:

  • The content in the email contains misspellings and grammatical errors, with the content phrasing stilted and incomplete.
  • The journal is not related to your field of research.
  • There are promises of a swift or express review process, such as 48 hours.
  • There are additional invitations such as serving on an editorial board or presenting at a conference.

For a list of other indicators, see Solicitations to Publish.

Organizations are taking note of journals with deceptive or misleading practices and providing recommendations for authors.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a blog post, titled Academics and Scientists: Beware of Predatory Journal Publishers, that discussed the lawsuit against the OMICS Group, a publisher that misrepresented their publication practices. The blog post advises authors to report questionable publishers to the FTC.

In December 2016, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) announced revised recommendations for authors: “A growing number of entities are advertising themselves as “medical journals” yet do not function as such (“predatory journals”). Authors have a responsibility to evaluate the integrity, history, practices and reputation of the journals to which they submit manuscripts.”

The NIH issued a notice: Statement on Article Publication Resulting from NIH Funded Research on November 3, 2017, that encourages authors to publish in journals from professional scholarly publishing organizations that follow best practices. Some indicators of journals that do not follow best practices are:

  • Misleading pricing (e.g., lack of transparency about article processing charges)
  • Failure to disclose information to authors
  • Aggressive tactics to solicit article submissions
  • Inaccurate statements about editorial board membership
  • Misleading or suspicious peer-review processes

The Council of Science Editors also issued a statement, “Predatory or Deceptive Publishers – Recommendations for Caution” that highly encourages authors to “carefully research journals to which they are considering a submission.”

In December 2017, the ICJME issued further recommendations for authors: “A growing number of entities are advertising themselves as scholarly medical journals yet do not function as such. These journals (predatory or pseudo-journals) accept and publish almost all submissions and charge article processing (or publication) fees, often informing authors about this after a paper’s acceptance for publication. They often claim to perform peer review but do not and may purposefully use names similar to well-established journals." The ICMJE also advised authors to seek the assistance of scientific mentors and senior colleagues with publishing experience.

There is no single listing of recommended journals for publishing. The journal you select depends on which journal best meets your needs. Our recommendations start with reviewing published journal articles and the journal website.

Review the journal articles published over the past two years:

  • Do the articles follow established principles for reporting of research?
  • Do the articles demonstrate sound scientific methods used in your field of research?
  • How is the scientific rigor of the articles?
  • How is the editorial quality of the articles?
  • Do you recognize the authors as experts/colleagues in your field of research?

Review the journal website:

  • Is there an Instructions for Authors section?
  • Is the review process clearly noted?
  • Do you recognize the Editor-in-Chief and the editorial board members as experts/colleagues in your field of research?
  • Does the journal follow publication guidelines such as the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals issued by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)?

If in doubt, ask your mentor or a librarian – Cathy Sarli and Amy Suiter are here to help.

See Selecting a Journal for Publication for more information.