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Review correspondence

Automatic emails to and from reviewers

The Manuscript FastTrack system generates automatic emails every time an action occurs to a submitted manuscript. For example, if one of your selected reviewers chooses not to do the review, you receive an email like this:

Dear {AE name},
{ReviewerName} has declined a request to review the submission {Title} {ID#}.
You may wish to assign another reviewer to this submission. If you need to assign another reviewer at this time, please log in at {sys_LoginLink} and take any further action as needed.

When a reviewer agrees to take on a review assignment, you receive this email:

Dear {AE name},
{ReviewerName} has agreed to review the submission {Title} {ID#} before the due date.
This action merely shows an intent of the reviewer to complete the assignment by the due date. It is not a review and it is not guaranteed that the reviewer will actually complete the review.

If your reviewer is late with his/her review, the system automatically sends the reviewer this helpful reminder:

Dear {ReviewerName},
I am inquiring as to the status of the manuscript {Title} {ID#}, which has been submitted for review in {UC ANR } on {DateAssigned}. We normally request that reviews be completed within {30} days of notification but understand that circumstances may sometimes prevent timely completion of reviews.

To download a copy of the manuscript, please click on the following link (or copy and paste this link in your browser):

To complete the review, please click on the following link (or copy and paste this link in your browser):

If you wish to decline this review, please click on the following link (or copy and paste this link in your browser):

Thank you in advance for your review.
Best regards,
{AE name}

Assuming your reviewers have completed their reviews on time, you’ll receive this email for each one:

Dear {AE name},
{ReviewerName} has submitted a review of {Title} {ID#}.
This is review {1} of {3} total reviews}.
Review completion time: {6 days}
This message is to let you know so that you can take any further action as needed.
Thank you!

Assessing reviews

Once the last of your reviews has been completed, it’s time for you to compile them and respond to the author with the decision.

  1. Log into your Associate/Guest Editor tasks page and click on the submission ID# to open its page. Scroll down to the now green Assigned reviewers section. Each reviewer will have sent his/her answers to the review questions. Each reviewer also has the option of sending you an “alias” copy of the manuscript itself with his or her comments embedded via Track Changes—if your reviewer wrote any. Each reviewer also has the option of sending a separate (anonymous) letter to the author with specific suggestions.

  2. You can open up each document from the reviewers and read through them. If you plan on writing a summary letter to the author of your own, this is your opportunity to extract specific sentences, concerns or corrections that reviewers want made, depending on the overall decision of your reviewers.

Ensuring privacy

One important task to do is check that any attachments that a reviewer has made to the system—typically their comments on the manuscript—is anonymous. You would be surprised at how many reviewers do not do this! Unfortunately the online system cannot do this processing automatically. While the CSIT editors regularly scroll through all new reviews to check that they are anonymous, AEs should know how to recognize when a review is not and fix—that is, process—it. 

These unscrubbed files are known as "unprocessed". To make a file anonymous ("process" it), follow the directions here, then upload the anonymized file to the system. 

Final recommendation

Reviewers have three recommendations that they can make about the submission:

  • Accepted, contingent upon approved revision
  • Declined, but recommend to rework and resubmit
  • Declined

Note: there is no “Accepted outright” option. The online system offers only three recommendations, and in writing these email templates I assumed that “outright acceptance” by all reviewers was probably the least frequent result. So that is the decision option I did not include. If all of your reviewers accept the submission outright, you can easily edit the final “Accept contingent on approved revision” email.

  1. Once you are ready to notify the author of the peer review results, go to the Submission Summary box and find “Editor Options.” Underneath you will see the three decision options. (Remember, the “Accept submission” is really the “Accept contingent upon approved revision” template but space was tight here, evidently.)

  2. Select the appropriate email template, and it opens up in a preview form. Note: ALL email decision templates include the reviewers’ answers to the review questions and their recommended decision. If you do not want these to be included in the question/answer format, you have the opportunity to delete these in the email.

  3. Having said that, be careful about what you delete from the templated email. For instance, the “Accept, contingent” email has live links to the MF-21 Submittal Form and the Communication Services Submission Instructions (formerly “Guidelines to Authors”), and you don’t want to delete those.

The “Accept, contingent...” email template reads:

Dear [author name],
Your manuscript {Title} {ID#} has gone through the ANR peer review process, and I am pleased to inform you that reviewers have recommended that it be accepted with revision. [Optional: I am also including some suggestions of my own that you should consider in your revision.]

Attached to this email are the reviewer comments that need addressing and a blank MF-21 Submittal Form [link to online MF-21]. Once you have completed your revision, send the manuscript back to me along with your written response to reviewers’ comments. (If you disagree with any of them, please explain why.) Lastly, please complete the MF-21 Submittal Form as far as your electronic signature and return this as well. With these three documents, I will then consider the manuscript for acceptance as an ANR publication.

Return to me within three months of this email:
•    Your revised, final manuscript
•    Your response to reviewers’ comments.
•    The completed MF-21 Submittal Form

If extenuating circumstances will prevent you from completing this within three months, please notify me. After three months, the manuscript will require a new peer review or it will be considered withdrawn.

I will electronically sign the MF-21 Submittal Form to indicate to Communication Services that your manuscript has passed peer review and is ready for publication production. Please note—production on your publication will not begin without this signed MF-21.

Your last step is preparing your final manuscript and all accompanying charts, graphs, illustrations and photographs for production at Communication services. Please refer to the Communication Services’ Submission Instructions [link to Submission Instructions]. Specific questions about manuscript format or publication production should be addressed to Jim Downing, Director of Publishing, jdowning@ucanr.edu or 530-750-1352.

Congratulations on your successful submission!

Best regards,
{AE Name},
{sys_SystemName} Associate Editor

The “Decline but Resubmit” email template reads:

Dear [author name],
Thank you for the opportunity to review your submission {Title} {ID#}. I regret to inform you that the reviews did not accept the manuscript in its current form.

I would welcome a revised draft that fully addresses the concerns and suggestions of the reviewers, which I have listed below. If you are willing to revise your manuscript in response to these comments, please let me know and resubmit your revised manuscript your earliest convenience.

Best regards,

{AE Name},
{sys_SystemName} Associate Editor

The “Decline” email template reads:

Dear [author name],
Thank you for your patience while your manuscript {Title} {ID#} went through the UC ANR peer review system. Having a manuscript reviewed by people who are knowledgeable in the subject helps assure us that the manuscripts published by the University of California make the strongest possible contribution to the field. It also may help you get an impartial idea of the quality of your manuscript judged against the standards set by other published work.

We regret to inform you that the reviews do not support publication of the manuscript in its present form.

If you disagree with this decision, you may appeal it to Communication Advisory Board chair Dennis Pittenger within six months.

If you have any questions or comments about this review process, please contact me.

Best regards,

{AE Name},
{sys_SystemName} Associate Editor

  1. If you want to use the appropriate templated email, hit “Send message.”
  2. If you want to tweak the letter and add your own suggestions, or perhaps, in the case of a Decline, some of the reasons why the reviewers rejected the submission, click “Preview letter” and then “Make changes.” Then do your changes onto the letter. When you are satisfied that you have adequately communicated the overall decision and specifics of the peer review, hit “Preview” and then “send.”

Thanking reviewers

If you wish to thank your reviewers for submitting a review, there is a templated email that you can send as is or edit.  

  1. Go back to your Associate/Guest Editor tasks page, and scroll down to the green “Assigned reviewer” section. You’ll see on the far right of each reviewer’s name is a “Notify reviewer of decision” option.

  2. Click that to go to the email template that notifies the reviewer of the final decision and thanks them. It looks like this:

Dear (reviewer name),
I want to thank you for your review of {Title} {ID#}, submitted to UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. After careful consideration of your comments and those of the other reviewers, this submission has been {decision}.

I greatly appreciate the time and commitment that goes into each review. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources would not be the quality publisher that it is without your efforts. If applicable, be sure to note that you reviewed this ANR publication as evidence of your university service or professional development in your merit and promotion package.

When this manuscript is published, Communication Services will send you a copy of or a link to the finished product.

Thanks again.

Best regards,

{AE Name},
{sys_SystemName} Associate Editor

3. Again, click “Preview reviewer notification letter” and “Send.”