D.J. McPhee
28 February 2024
Posted inSubmission Post authorD.J. McPhee

What is a Precheck?

The precheck stage in publication is very important. It helps you to decide whether or not a manuscript is ready (or acceptable) for publication in your journal.

Because a manuscript takes a great deal of time and effort to publish, it is important to make sure that you are not wasting that time.

Wasting time on manuscripts

There’s a negative connotation to the term “wasting time”. Sometimes, people define this as a negative, malicious thing. Someone doing something specifically because they’re a bad actor and are trying to cause you problems. That is not the case here. In this article, we are talking about time as a resource that is either spent in a good way, or wasted. Time is one of your most valuable resources. Unlike money and the number of staff members you have, you don’t have any control over this variable.

Time is finite and non-replenishable. Once it is gone, it is gone.

As such, you want to make sure that you are not devoting hours, days, or even weeks to work on manuscripts which will not be published. Is this scenario impossible to avoid completely? No. Can you implement guidelines that will minimize this loss as much as possible? Absolutely.

By implementing a rigorous precheck stage to your publication pipeline, you can take steps to ensure your time is not being wasted.

What is a precheck?

The precheck, sometimes also referred to as a pre-screen, generally consists of two primary stages:

  1. Technical precheck;
  2. Editorial precheck.

These two parts of the editorial process can be done at the same time in order to save time, or they can be done individually so that resources are maximized. Understanding how these two stages can fit together in the editorial process can help to reduce total time, but can also result in wasted time.

Consider the difference between time used and time elapsed. For the sake of this argument, let’s imagine that each check takes one hour to complete.

When you send a manuscript for a technical and editorial precheck at the same time, you are using two hours of resources (one for the technical, and the other for the editorial). If both occur at the same time, only one hour of total time are being used. This means the check is completed more quickly. If you do an editorial precheck before the technical check, you might find significant errors in a manuscript leading to a rejection. This means that you do not spend time as a resource on a paper that won’t be published.

How to decide your precheck pipeline

There isn’t really a correct answer to this question. In some cases, one answer is correct, and in other situations a different answer is. What matters most here is to choose a process and stick to it. Not establishing a clear pipeline for your staff can result in mistakes. These mistakes can cause confusion leading to a greater waste of time. These two stages are both very important, so it is crucial for your staff to know what they are and what order they should be done in.

Technical precheck

Basically, the technical precheck is designed to determine if a manuscript is suitable for publication. This stage is usually done by your editorial team. Once a manuscript is received, the following items should be checked:

  • Is the manuscript suitable for the journal?
  • Is the manuscript of high-quality and does it meet ethical standards?
  • Does it meet standards relating to rigor that justify further review?

A manuscript might not necessarily hit all three points, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a weak article. Or even that it isn’t suitable for your journal. But it would need further work before an acceptance is given.

Editorial precheck

The editorial precheck uses a series of submission guidelines to establish if a submission is ready for your journal. There are many different ways to organize your submission guidelines, but we’ve prepared an article on the subject to help.

Your editorial precheck will need to cover a few different things. The specifics, though, can be organized in different ways.

Your editorial precheck will want to look at:

  • Materials needed for publication (this can vary depending on the type of article);
  • That the graphics are correct (file sizes, copyright, etc.);
  • That the file formats are all acceptable;
  • Required author/affiliation details;
  • and so on.

These will help your team to know whether or not a manuscript is ready for the publication process.

Who is involved in the precheck stage

Many people are involved in this process. The academic editors (this could be your Editor-in-Chief or an invited guest editor) will be involved in the precheck stage. Editorial board members are also possibly involved in the process.

Your editorial team, from managing editors down, may also be directly involved in the process. Because there are so many people that might be involved, it’s important that everyone have a clear understanding of expectations.

The importance of having guidelines

Your journal will be successful if you have a strong team to run it. This means that your team should have a clear understanding of expectations and of their roles. Everyone from the owner to the layout department to your freelance English editor should know what is needed of them. So guidelines are critical.

Remember that your journal might have several different sets of guidelines, and that’s fine.

You will need guidelines that relate to managing teams, as well as guidelines for the submission process. Your English editors will need guidelines for how to edit manuscripts, and more.

Remember to set your team (and journal) up for success.

D.J. McPhee
28 February 2024
Posted inSubmission
Post author D.J. McPhee
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