In the first of an occasional series about publishing with P&P, I’ve written here about the life of a P&P article from submission through to publication. You probably know, or could guess, most of it. But we like to be transparent (and in any case it doesn’t seem fair to assume that everyone knows the process) so here goes.
All submitted articles are read in the first instance in the editorial office. If they are really totally unsuited to the journal we’ll let you know straight away, so we don’t waste your time. Most, however, will be sent out to our readers. Nearly all refereeing for P&P is carried out by members of the Board. Often, we’ll subsequently send it to further readers (again, usually from the Board) for their opinions too.
In due course (usually within four months of submission), the editor will write to you with a decision. It’s often a rejection: we are sent more than five times as many articles as we can publish. We try to make rejections as helpful as possible by including the comments from the readers and indicating why we don’t think the piece is right for P&P. Often it’s a question of its suitability for our non-specialist readership: something that would fit very well in one journal may be inappropriate for another. Sometimes, we invite a resubmission of a rejected article, where we think it’s possible that the article could be revised in such a way as to make it a good fit with the journal. We try to indicate as clearly as possible what we think you might need to do to it to resubmit it successfully.
If the article is accepted for publication, we’ll almost certainly ask you to make certain revisions to it, based on the recommendations in the readers’ reports. Once you’ve returned the revised manuscript to us, the editor will check it over again and once she or he is satisfied, we’ll be ready to go to copy-editing. In the meantime, we’ll need to make sure that any images, maps etc. are of suitable quality and that you have acquired all necessary permissions for their use. We’ll also talk to you about advance access publication, let you know about open access options (I’ll write a post about open access some time soon…), and so on.
When the article is sent for copy-editing, you’ll then hear back from the copy-editor once she or he has corrected your article and brought it fully into line with house style. You’ll liaise directly with the copy-editor over any queries, who will then return a final text to the editorial office. We’ll send it to the typesetters and a couple of weeks or so after that, you’ll get the page proofs to check. Our own proof-reader will also check them and will again liaise directly with you if she has any queries.
Once the proofs have been corrected and returned, the typesetters will make any alterations, and then the article will be ready. If you opt for advance access publication (that is, publication online ahead of the print issue), it can then go live. And finally, it will come out in print.