Office Procedures

The L&O administrative structure consists of an Editor-in-chief, a Journals Manager, and the Associate Editors. What follows is a narrative description of how they interact to process manuscripts and produce the journal, followed by a summary of their individual responsibilities:

What happens to manuscripts that are submitted to L&O

A manuscript is received at the Canmore L&O office. A manuscript reference number (e.g., 98-322) is assigned, and it is registered in the L&O database. The Editor-in-chief scans it to determine if it is suitable in form and content for the journal. If it is not (e.g., because the content is inappropriate, or its use of English is substandard) it is rejected without review; otherwise it is assigned to an Associate Editor.

A copy of the manuscript and the author's cover letter is sent to the Associate Editor. The Associate Editor examines it and can recommend to the Editor-in-chief that it be rejected without external review. (Between the Editor-in-chief and the Associate Editors, about 10% of submitted papers are rejected without review.) If the Associate Editor considers it worth reviewing, s/he sends the names and addresses of potential reviewers to the L&O office. Associate Editors are allowed two weeks to supply the names of potential reviewers; they are then notified by E-mail if they are late. General guidelines that the Associate Editor works under are: 1) To not suggest someone with whom s/he currently has a close working relationship, and 2) To not act as a reviewer on a paper s/he has been assigned.

Upon receiving the Associate Editor's list of potential reviewers, the names are checked against reviewing history information in the L&O database to ascertain how many reviews each person has done for L&O in the last year, whether they have outstanding reviews, and whether s/he should not be asked to do any reviews because, e.g., s/he has left science, is dead, is on sabbatical or maternity leave, .... We also advise the Associate Editor to think twice about anyone who always refuses review requests, is chronically late sending in reviews, or who has failed to deliver promised reviews in the recent past. Based on this information, the list is prioritized and reviewers are pre-contacted (by E-mail or fax) until two are found who agree to review the paper. The manuscript is sent to them, along with a copy of the Guidelines for L&O Reviewers. Reviewer's are given three weeks to acknowledge receipt of the manuscript; E-mail or fax requests for confirmation are automatically sent if they have not acknowledged receipt within this time period. Reviewers are allowed 4 weeks from the date the manuscript was sent to them electronically (5 weeks if it was mailed to them) to return their reviews; E-mail or fax reminders are sent if reviews are not received within this time period.

Reviews are received at the Canmore office. When two are in hand, they are forwarded to the Associate Editor. Based on the reviews and the Associate Editor's own assessment of the manuscript, s/he writes the decision letter. Associate Editors are given three weeks to return the decision letter; s/he is reminded by e-mail if we do not receive the decision letter within this period.

In rare cases, only one review is received and there is no prospect of getting the second one on a timely basis. The Associate Editor can make a decision about the fate of the manuscript if s/he feels comfortable doing so. However, the Associate Editor should not act as the second reviewer. However, it is entirely appropriate for the Associate Editor to comment critically AFTER the decision to accept the manuscript has been made (even if this decision is provisional, i.e., requiring suitable revision). The decision letter is E-mailed to the Journals Manager, who checks it to ensure that it includes correct administrative details and forwards it (along with the reviews) to the corresponding author (most frequently by E-mail or fax).

Authors are given three months to submit a revision. If the revision does not arrive within that period, the authors are asked whether they intend to submit a revision. If they do not respond, or if they are unable to complete the required revisions soon the paper is considered withdrawn and any future version of the manuscript that is received is treated as a new submission (a new tracking number is assigned and the review process restarted). Revised manuscripts are forwarded to the Associate Editor, who decides whether the authors have responded adequately to comments and suggestions from the first round of review. In most cases revised manuscripts are sent for re-review to one or both of the first round reviewers.

Based on his/her own assessment of the manuscript and any re-reviews, the Associate Editor writes the final decision letter (a second round of major revision is not supposed to happen but occasionally does if new issues not mentioned in the review of the original submission arise in the review of a revision) and E-mails it to the editorial office, who forwards it to the author. Approximately 35% of submitted manuscripts are accepted.

If the paper is accepted and requires only minor revision, the Associate Editor and the editorial office staff edit the paper to improve its technical clarity and to make it conform to the How to Prepare Manuscripts for L&O checklist. The degree of detail that Associate Editors get into here is pretty much up to them; some edit a lot, others not at all. The edited copy (along with any manuscript pages marked by reviewers that the Associate Editor thinks would be of use to the authors) are are forwarded to the author, along with specific instructions from the editorial office that are required to make the format consistent with the L&O style.

The author E-mails the final revision of the paper to the Editorial Office. The Journals Manager reviews this material to confirm that all required parts are present. If everything is in order, the MS is E-mailed to Allen Press for typestting.

A copy editor at Allen Press lightly edits the manuscript to ensure that the grammar is correct and that it conforms to the L&O style sheet (a technical document that is on file at Allen Press). The copy editor also checks that all literature references in the text appear in the list of references and vice-versa, and that figures and tables are cited in the proper order in the text. The manuscript is then typeset and galley proofs are E-mailed to the Editorial Office. Authors receive proofs as an Adobe PDF file attached to an E-mail message; this message also contains a preliminary estimate of the publication charges for the paper. From the time that the Editorial Office sends the manuscript to Allen Press to the time that authors receive proofs is 3-5 weeks.

If an author does not return corrected author proofs to the Editorial Office within 7 days s/he is notified by E-mail or fax that the proofs are late. When received, the Editor-in-Chief checks author corrections and E-mails the corrected proofs to Allen Press.

Typesetters at Allen Press prepare "1st Revisions" proofs, which are E-mailed to the Editor-in-Chief. Preparation of 1st Revision proofs takes about two weeks. The Editor-in-Chief checks to ensure that all corrections have been correctly interpreted by Allen Press, adds any late-arriving corrections from authors, and sends the corrected 1st Revision proofs back to Allen Press. Allen Press then produces "2nd Revision" proofs and E-mails them to the Editorial Office. Preparation of 2nd Revision proofs takes about 1 week. These final proofs corrected and sent back to Allen Press. It then takes about three weeks for Allen Press to prepare the final pdf, which is posted on the L&O website.

Significant features of this system that authors, reviewers, and Associate Editors should be aware of are:

  • Detailed records are kept in the L&O database to track the progress of every manuscript through the system. These data allow the Editorial office staff to determine the instantaneous status of every manuscript. Messages (either E-mail or fax, depending on the addresses stored for an individual in the L&O address table) are sent to Associate Editors who are late returning lists of potential reviewers, reviewers who are late returning reviews, Associate Editors who are late returning decision letters, authors who are late submitting revisions, and authors who are late returning proofs.
  • The entire L&O database system (data files and programs) is automatically backed up every night on an off-site Internet server, which stores identical copies on five independent computers. Staff in the Editorial Office can download any or all of this system to any computer connected to the Internet. Thus, if the L&O office server "crashed", the L&O database could be immediately restored to another computer in the L&O office and business would proceed with minimal disruption.

Duties of the Editor-in-Chief

Responsible for the overall content of Limnology and Oceanography. Specific duties include:

  • Nominating potential Associate Editors to the ASLO Board; in doing so, the following considerations are taken into account (in approximate decreasing order of importance):
    • Scientific expertise
    • Standing in the community, including where s/he is in their career
    • Freshwater vs. marine
    • Organizational skills (very difficult to predict!)
    • Gender
    • Geographic area (i.e., North America vs. overseas)
  • Assigning papers to the Associate Editors for review
  • Adjudicating appealed Associate Editor decisions; in extreme cases, final appeal may be made to the ASLO Board
  • Helping the Journals Manager with routine journal operations
  • Supervising the flow of manuscripts and reviews to reviewers, Associate Editors, and authors
  • Reporting to the ASLO Board about the status of L&O
  • Processing proofs

Duties of the Associate Editors

Perform duties and tasks as directed by the Editor-in-Chief. Associate Editors are ideally generalists who handle 15-20 papers per year. They are appointed to two year terms subject to approval of the ASLO Board. Specific duties include:

  • Choosing reviewers and making the final accept/reject decision for papers assigned by the Editor-in-Chief
  • Advising the Editor-in-Chief on journal affairs (e.g., suggesting and discussing possible Associate Editor appointees; suggesting possible topics for review papers; deciding whether presubmission enquiries from potential authors should be encouraged)

Duties of the Journals Manager

Performs duties and tasks as directed by the Editor-in-Chief. Specific duties include:

  • Administering the L&O office
  • Counseling the Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editors about L&O procedures
  • Adapting new technologies to L&O as appropriate and as needs dictate
  • Attending ASLO meetings to represent L&O
  • Representing ASLO in contract negotiations with Allen Press (the copy-editing contractor and printer)
  • Offering advice on matters relevant to journal production to the ASLO Board (on request)
  • Consulting with Allen Press personnel on a periodic basis to optimize administrative procedures and ensure that schedules are met
  • Providing authors with information on the status of their manuscripts
  • Reviewing accepted manuscripts to ensure completeness and then sending them to Allen Press for copy-editing and typesetting
  • Designing and maintaining an electronic database to manage the information associated with the production of L&O and using it to perform ad hoc data summaries as requested by the Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editors, or the ASLO Board

Instruction Pages

The information links below provide general instructions for authors and reviewers, as well as general information on the Limnology and Oceanography office.