Editorial management and automatic emails/notifications

Dear all,

I am the editorial manager of OENO One journal (https://oeno-one.eu) published by the International Viticulture and Enology Society (IVES).

The OJS version we are using is OJS 3.2.1.3.

I am not a specialist in software management and coding.

In our editorial system the article is attributed to an editor-in-chief, then the article is assigned to an associate editor. The associate editor is in charge of the management of the peer-review process. He or she will assign the manuscript to at least 2 reviewers.

As editorial secretary, I need to be kept informed at each stage of the process. We have more and more submissions and so we need to simplify the editorial management. We have noticed that there is a lack of automatic e-mails and I would love to have these set up for each step.

Here some examples:

Currently, there are no automatic emails send to the associate editors:

  • to remind them that they need to assign reviewers
  • to remind them that a review is overdue and so that they should send a reminder to the reviewer who is late

Do you know if it’s possible to set-up automatic emails for associate editors?

Regarding the reviewers, they receive only 2 automatic reminders:

  • First - to say that they have not replied to the request (Yes I will review the manuscript or No, I am not available)
  • Second - to remind them that their review is overdue

Do you know if it’s possible to set-up more automatic reminders for the reviewers that have missed the deadlines?

When the process is over, the reviewers do not know if the manuscript they reviewed has been accepted or declined.

Do you know if an automatic email can be sent to inform them?

Regarding the editorial secretaries:

  • We do not receive a notification to inform us that the associate editor has requested revisions from authors or accept or decline the manuscript.
  • We do not receive any notifications to inform us that a review is overdue.

Do you know if we can get automatic emails to inform us about the steps above?

Thank you very much for your time and for considering my requests. I am available if you need more details. We are ready to collaborate and invest in this important development project.

Claire Guyot

Hello @Claire_Guyot,

Your associate editors sound comparable to the section editors that are the default roles in OJS. For an overview of the roles within OJS and how they can be customized, see here: Users and Roles

For the automatic emails in instances where reviewers need to be assigned or that reviews are overdue, the way in which OJS handles this is to allow filtering by articles in the editorial dashboard for submissions that need reviewers are assigned and for those which reviews are overdue: Editorial Workflow - editors can then identify those which need attention and send reminders where appropriate - these are, however, not automated. Please note that there are some improvements in OJS 3.3: Editorial Workflow, so you may wish to consider upgrading in order to take advantage of these features.

You may also wish to consult the list of emails in our documentation: Workflow Settings

As you noted, there are already review reminders sent when reviewes are overdue. There are not at present anymore automatic reminders.

I have flagged this post as a “Feature Request” also, so our developers may see it and assess whether or not adding additional reminders might be something that might be added in the future, but at present, the capability to have additional automated reminders does not seem feasible within OJS currently. That said, the capability does exist for editors to send reminders manually.

This seems like a unique case from what I’ve seen. There is not the capability to do this within OJS. The reviewers are typically not informed of the outcome until a new issue is published and they discover the article has been published - only the editor, author and internal journal staff would know the outcome. Although other journals may opt to inform reviewers - this could be done by utilizing the discussion feature in OJS - but this is not typical of many use cases that I’ve seen.

-Roger
PKP Team

Hi @Claire_Guyot,

Thanks for your feedback. We are fairly restrictive about automated emails because we don’t want to overwhelm editors with too much email noise. As Roger mentioned, we give associate and managing editors tools to quickly identify submissions waiting for reviewers or with overdue reviews. However, they need to login to do this.

It’s possible with our plugin system to write plugins to send automated emails like this. If you have technical support provided by your host (sometimes the publisher, sometimes an institutional provider), you may want to discuss with them if this is feasible.

Improving emails is a big part of our work planned for 3.4. We don’t specifically have plans for adding the automated reminders that you mention. However, we will be improving the opt-in / opt-out process for emails throughout the system. That will make it easier for us to offer more automated emails while letting users control how much “notification noise” they want to receive.

While we don’t support the automated emails right now, I’ll give you some suggestions for what manual options exist to help streamline the workflow that you describe and help you stay on top of submissions:

  1. When looking at an assigned editor on a submission’s workflow, you can click the arrow to see more options and then click the “Notify” button to send them an email. This might be a quick way to alert an associate editor when a submission has been moved into the review stage and needs assignments.
  2. When reviewers are overdue and have already received both automated reminders, an editor can go to the submission in the workflow, find the reviewer, and click the “Send Reminder” button to quickly send off another reminder.
  3. After a review is complete, there is a button to “Send Thank You”. Once you have accepted a review, you can use this button to quickly let the reviewers know the final decision. (You can customize this email template under Settings > Workflow > Email Templates. Look for Article Review Acknowledgement.)
  4. While there are no email notifications for editors regarding revision requests, as an editorial secretary you can monitor activity on a submission directly from the submission list. When viewing your list of submissions, click the dropdown arrow to show more details and then click the “Activity Log” button to view recent activity on the submission. There you will see any activity, such as editorial decisions, taken by the associate editor.
1 Like

Dear @NateWr and @rcgillis,
Thank you very much for your time.

I am familiar with the features you mentioned. However, I am having difficulty following up articles and ensuring efficient follow-up. If automatic emails can’t be set up easily, maybe we could think about creating a dashboard? It could allow managers to see all articles at once and the latest actions or alerts (review for …, review overdue, article decline on…, article accepted). Instead of monitoring the activity on the submission list.
Our association IVES would like to be able to contribute to the development of these new functionalities and ensure that they are compatible with OJS. We really would like to make them available for the community.

If you like the idea of the dashboard, do you think that a collaboration could be set up?

Thank you again for your help and to help us publishing our articles in open access. We are very grateful.

Have a nice day,
Claire Guyot

Hi @Claire_Guyot,

@NateWr, may wish to weigh in further on the feasibility of such a development, as well as alignment with future development for version 3.4, but just a quick note to say that we typically handle such collaborations via sponsored development requests, which you can read more about here: Sponsored Development - PKP Publishing Services - there is a contact form there for getting in touch about these requests, and you can also refer to this forum post as well.

Best regards,

Roger
PKP Team

Hi @Claire_Guyot,

That’s great that your organization may be willing to contribute to development. I’d recommend you reach out to our publishing services in the link that Roger provided.

The biggest challenge we face with such cases is aligning your needs with the needs of our wider community, who may see things differently regarding how a feature should work. For example, I discussed with a colleague your request to automatically notify reviewers when a submission is accepted and she raised some good reasons why journals may not want this feature.

I’ve captured that information in a feature request at our development repository at GitHub. Before going to Publishing Services, I’d recommend you sit down with your team and try to carefully work out the details of what you want. You’ve done a good job already laying out which reminders you want, but you may want to spend some time identifying:

  • What is the problem you are trying to solve?
  • Who is asking for this feature?
  • Under what conditions might a journal want this to behave differently?
  • Which features are the most important?

A good exercise you can follow is to write “user stories”. Each user story describes a single user’s need and helps capture the information above in the following format:

As an editor
I want to make sure reviewers are notified when a manuscript they reviewd has been accepted or declined
so that they feel their contributions were appreciated by the journal.

Information in that format will help my Publishing Services colleagues more quickly understand whether a request overlaps with community need and what kind of features or tools might be needed.

2 Likes

Hi @NateWr and @rcgillis,
Thank you again for your time.
I understand that our demands have to be align to the needs of the community, it’s a big challenge :slight_smile:
I understand your wish to limit automatic emails and reminders for reviewers.

Our two major points of improvement are: 1) reminders to associate editors 2) acceptance or rejection of papers

For case 1) In our system, the associate editor in charge of the follow-up of the papers. But very often, the editorial secretaries have to remind him/her what he/she has to do (e.g: send a reminder to the reviewers, take a decision on a manuscript, remind the authors if the new version has not been submitted). What would be great is to have an automatic email, sent to the associate editors (and not to the reviewers), informing them the action needed (see the previous list of examples).

For point 2) When an associate editor accepts or declines a manuscript, the editorial secretary is not informed. However, in “submission” or “archive”, the articles are classified by DOI - you can’t see the last action, this complicates the follow-up. (e.g.: an article with an old doi but which has just been declined is very difficult to find in the list - even with the filters). We could imagine a notification for the editorial secretaries at each stage of the system. I think a dashboard, with alerts, could be a very interesting tool.

Regarding the email that would inform the reviewers of the final decision. This is not our priority. But, thank you very much for publishing this idea on github. It is very interesting to have the opinions of colleagues. I keep that in mind and will focus on point 1 and 2 for the moment.

Have a nice day,
Claire

Hi @Claire_Guyot,

  1. Our aim at the present is to improve the submission lists to make it easier to identify the status of a submission, particularly in peer review, so that editorial secretaries can identify when something has not been followed up on. You can follow some of those discussions here and here.

  2. It sounds like what you want is a better activity log that gave editorial secretaries a list of recent activity across all of their assigned submissions. I’ve made some proposals for a global activity log, but we haven’t been able to prioritize that work yet.

Both of these are things that we really want to work on, but which we have not yet been able to prioritize. If you think they would address some of your concerns, they’d be a good candidate for sponsored development.

2 Likes

Hi again @NateWr. Thank you very much. I will have a look at the links you provide me (after a quick look, it looks amazing! the point 2 for global activity could be very very usefull).
I will also consider the sponsor development and will come back to you very soon with some ideas :slight_smile:
Thank you again for your very usefull help,
Have a nice day,
Claire

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