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TAS Special Issue Editorial Process

The process of putting together a Special Issue can involve hundreds of manuscripts, submitted almost simultaneously. Special accommodations have been put in place to manage the workflow while also ensuring that the integrity of TAS is upheld in a transparent process.
This page is long, but it is extensively hyperlinked to serve as a glossary as well as a reference.
Overview of the process 

The Workflow 

Due dates and reminder hierarchy


 Site Configuration, editor assignments, and invitations to authors to submit manuscripts

  • The Special Issue site in ScholarOne Manuscripts (S1M) will be configured empty database records, called “stubs”, for each program ID number. The stub will be identified by the conference and the program number, e.g. “ASC2014-1LOrA-01”. Each stub is pre-assigned to a TE and a LE.
  • Each stub has a user profile associated with it, which identifies the corresponding author from the program information. When the submission site goes “live”, e-mail is sent from the S1M system to every corresponding author requesting that a manuscript be uploaded into the system. Authors submit manuscripts by responding to the e-mail and uploading manuscript files
  • The EIC will announce when the peer review process should begin; TE are otherwise not notified when manuscripts appear.  It is important to NOT begin the peer review process until the EIC announcement has been given, because manuscripts may be re-assigned to different TEs.
    • Since approximately 40% to 50% of the stubs will not receive any file upload, the distribution of work among TEs will initially not be uniform. Administrators and the EIC will re-assign manuscripts to balance the workload. An e-mail from the S1M system may be sent to notify TEs of changes in assignments.
    • Manuscript stubs that remain empty after the close of submissions will be deleted. Thus, editors should expect to find an incomplete list of manuscripts from sessions assigned to them.
    • Other checks will be made, such as payment of extra page or manuscript fees, validation of conference registration codes, etc.

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Cross-check: automatic check for plagiarism

  • Manuscripts are automatically checked for similarity with other published work. This produces a Similarity Report.
    • A score higher than 30% may trigger intervention directly by IEEE Publications. 
    • The author list and references should be excluded from the similarity check.
    • Editors should be aware of false alarms and other triggers that affect the way the software identifies similarity. Please consult Interpreting the Similarity Report.
    • Editors should compare figures in similar articles and compare them to the figures in the submitted manuscript. Unfortunately, there is no software that can assist the editor. Direct copying of images or plots should be questioned. Reasonable modification of figures, with proper attribution of material published previously, is allowed.

Assessing the suitability of a manuscript for peer review

  • The TE makes a judgment whether the manuscript can be peer reviewed, being careful to not conduct a formal review at this stage. The Suitability Checklist in S1M will prompt the TE to review the following criteria:
    • Is the manuscript about Applied Superconductivity, or does its subject matter fall within the scope of the conference?  Sometimes special sessions are added that might not fall completely within the field of “applied superconductivity”.  Manuscripts can be submitted for peer review when they have been presented as part of the approved program.
    • Does the manuscript present a scientific discussion? Sometimes advertisements, cut-and-paste presentation slides, excerpts of text, or other forms appear as manuscript submissions.
    • Does the manuscript provide references to relevant work? The references should be sufficient to allow the reviewer to understand the background and context of the work in the relevant field of activity.
    • Is the English language sufficient for a reviewer to understand the message presented by the authors? The language does not need to be perfect, just up to a level of comprehension to make the author’s work reviewable by a typical reviewer.
    • Does the manuscript conform reasonably well to the required style? Significant deviations from the required style may affect the reviewer’s ability to evaluate the quality of presentation and clarity of the message.
    • Does the body of the manuscript contain sufficient original content? IEEE Publications set a standard of 70% for new material. While CrossCheck will usually detect instances of direct copying, the editor should also look for re-statement of content published previously.
  • The S1M system does not prompt the TE for a response to each question, or store the responses. So, the TE should make note of any shortcomings for transmission in a decision letter.
  • A manuscript that is not suitable should be given a decision of “Send back to author for re-submission”. Note: this decision type only applies to original submissions.
    • ​TE sets the number of reviews required to 0.
    • TE selects a decision of “Send back to author for re-submission (before peer review only)”.
    • TE edits the reject e-mail and provides comments about the non-suitable item(s).
  • Manuscripts may also be given a firm “Reject” decision.
    • A consultation with the LE should occur.
    • TEs set the number of reviews required to 0.
    • TEs select a decision of “Reject (before or after peer review)”.  
    • TEs edit the reject e-mail and provide comments about the decision. 

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Selecting, inviting, and assigning reviewers

  • When the paper has completed the suitability check, or when an author has submitted a revision, an e-mail is sent to notify the TE that a manuscript is awaiting reviewer selection. The select reviewers task becomes due.
  • The assign reviewer task “clock” also starts running.
    • The related tasks select reviewer and invite reviewer have independent schedules from the assign reviewer task.
    • For tasks select reviewer, invite reviewer, and assign reviewer, S1M will not show any task as being complete until the number of active selections, invitations, or assignments is greater than or equal to the number of required reviews.
      • If a change is made for a task showing a “complete” status, e.g. an invited reviewer declines, the relevant task may return to an “incomplete” status, e.g. invite reviewer again becomes a pending task.
      • When a task returns to an incomplete status, the “clock” does not reset.  The due or overdue status is determined by the original start date of the task and the date of the status change.  This can trigger overdue reminder notices if an extension has not been granted.
      • Other changes can modify the status of these tasks. For example, if the TE decides to seek a 3rd review, the required number of reviewers would be changed from 2 to 3, which will make the select reviewer task and the assign reviewer task both become pending. If this change was made late into the process, these tasks may show up as overdue. The TE should notify the LE before seeking a third review, so the LE can extend the deadline and prevent e-mail reminders related to long overdue tasks from being triggered.
    •  Lead editors can grant extensions to the assign reviewer task
  • The TE uses the search tools in S1M to select a list of potential reviewers for the manuscript.
    • For revised manuscripts, the previous reviewers will automatically be selected. 
    • An e-mail reminding the TE of the need to complete this step may be sent. 
    • The TE need not complete the select reviewers task to invite or assign individual reviewers. That is, if 2 reviewers are required, the first reviewer can be selected, invited, and assigned without taking action on other reviewers.
    • More reviewers can be selected than required. This practice is strongly encouraged to cover declined invitations and for other contingencies.
    • When any reviewer is selected, the invite reviewer task becomes pending.
  • From the list of selected reviewers, the TE invites some or all reviewers.
    • The invitation can be initiated one-by-one by using a pull-down menu next to each selected reviewer.
    • The invitation can also be initiated for all selections by using a mass invitation tool at the right side of the view pane. 
    • An e-mail reminding the TE of the need to invite some of the selected reviewers may be sent. 
    • When the invitation is initiated by the TE, an e-mail template is made available for editing. The TE may edit this e-mail with details about the request, which may be appropriate if additional details concerning the manuscript need to be disclosed. The invitation is not completed until this e-mail is sent.
  • The review invitation contains links to permit the reviewer to accept the invitation, decline the invitation, or indicate unavailable status.
    • The accept link automatically assigns the reviewer to the manuscript.  A confirmation e-mail to the reviewer will be sent from the S1M system, with CC to the TE. The number of assigned reviewers is increased by 1.
    • The decline link will indicate this status on the TE information pane, and will reduce the number of active reviewer invitations by 1. This could return the manuscript to the invite reviewer or select reviewer task, depending on the active number of invitations or selections. Confirmation e-mail to the reviewer will be sent from the S1M system, with CC to the TE.
    • The unavailable link will mark this status on the TE information pane, as well as all other status panes where the reviewer shows. This could return the manuscript to the invite reviewer or select reviewer task, depending on the active number of invitations or selections.
  • Alternatively, the TE can make the review assignment on behalf of the reviewer, e.g. if the reviewer accepts the assignment during a phone conversation. The assignment can be made using the pull-down menu next to the reviewer’s name on the view panel.
  • Reviewers perform their review and return the Score Sheet.  The S1M system sends e-mail reminders.  TEs need to monitor the progress of reviews, in particular for non-responsive reviewers who will need to be replaced.
    • Marking a review as non-responsive prior to assigning a replacement reviewer may trigger many late notices by the S1M system.  Instead, a TE should first invite and assign the replacement reviewer, then mark the late reviewer as non-responsive.
    • E-mail will be sent to confirm receipt of review and thank the reviewer.
    • E-mail may be sent to indicate that a review is no longer needed.  This can occur when the TE removes a non-responsive or very late review.  This can also occur when the required number of reviews has been received by the S1M system, which moves the manuscript to a decision stage.  In that case, any additional assigned reviews become “abandoned” and no longer deemed necessary by the S1M system.
    • Review deadlines can be extended by the TE using tools attached to the reviewer account information.
  • When all required Score Sheets have been returned, the Peer Review workflow exits to the decision stage of the workflow from which it began.

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Interpreting reports from reviewers

  • The score sheet information is considered to be confidential to the editor, except for comments to the author. Editor should read all information in score sheets.
  • Reviewers should return comments to the author, describing the shortcomings as well as strengths of the manuscript. Since comments to the authors will be copied directly into the decision letter template, it is important for editors to review these comments. Editors may modify the comments in cases where the choice of language may not be fully appropriate.
  • A score sheet that does not contain comments to the author may be considered as an insufficient or incomplete review. A reminder to the reviewer can be sent out to solicit a more complete score sheet, or the reviewer can be replaced.
  • Reviewers may also return confidential comments to the editor. Confidential comments to the editor, as well as information on score sheets other than comments to the author, will not be automatically copied to the decision letter.
  • Editors should interpret all comments for the author, striving to produce a set of specific instructions for the authors in cases where the reviewers’ instructions are not clear. The editor may use part of the e-mail decision letter template to create a specific list of instructions from the editor.
  • Editors must strive to be fair and unbiased in their interpretation of reports from reviewers.


  • When all reviews are completed, the TE assigned to the manuscript makes a decision. An e-mail notifying the TE that the manuscript is ready for a decision will be sent by the S1M system.
  • The decisions after peer review are:
  • All decisions should have an explanation from the editor. While an “accept” decision might be self-explanatory and not appear to need additional comment from the editor, the editor should consider the audit trail, especially if the recommendations from one reviewer are being overturned to some degree by the editor.
  • More discussion about the contents of the decision letter is given under the workflows for reject and revise decisions.

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Revised Manuscripts:

  • A Revise decision can have 2 levels:
    • Major revision, which usually indicates the presence of technical or scientific flaws in addition to any flaws in writing, language, format, or style; and which usually requires a second round of peer review;
    • Minor revision, which usually indicates technically sound material that contains flaws in writing, language, format, or style; and which does not require additional peer review.
  • Upon entering a decision of either Major or Minor Revision, an e-mail template is created that explains the policies for manuscript revision, and the process and deadline for manuscript revision upload. TE must edit this e-mail template to include specific comments about manuscript shortcomings. The content of the “Comments to Author” box from the peer review score sheets completed by reviewers will automatically be copied into this template
  • Saving the e-mail and committing the decision will send the e-mail notification to the author, and start the “clock” for revision.
    • Authors have 3 weeks to revise an original submission, 2 weeks otherwise.
    • TE can modify this deadline by changing the date in the “revision due by” box on the details pane.  See FAQ.
    • If the author misses the deadline, access to the upload tools in the author center will be turned off. TE or an Admin must extend the deadline to turn the upload tools back on for the author.
  • Authors complete revisions and upload new files. The file identifiers are appended with “.Rn” where n is the number of revision. For example, the hyperlink to the first revision will have “.R1” after the manuscript ID number.
    • Editors should carefully look over the files returned with the revision. A revised source file must be uploaded. 
    • In addition:
      • The author may return a new cover letter, which sometimes provides explanation of the revision or rebuttal statements.
      • The author may return a supplementary file, which sometimes provides additional mark-up of the changes made.
      • The author might change figure files, and possibly the count of figures. 
  • Revised manuscripts are not automatically checked for similarity with other published work. The TE may submit the revised manuscript for a similarity check in the S1M system.
  • Revised manuscripts may again enter the Peer Review Workflow. TE will receive an e-mail notifying them of the return of the manuscript from the author.
    • For a manuscript that received minor revisions, this step is not required. The number of revisions needed should be set to 0, and the manuscript will fall to the next step.
    •  For a manuscript that received major revisions, or if the TE chooses to return a manuscript with minor revisions to the reviewers, the TE chooses a number of required reviews. This number can be 1, 2, or more.
      • For example, if only 1 of 2 reviewers found serious flaws with the previous version of the manuscript, the TE can choose to request a review of the revised manuscript from only that reviewer. Or, the TE can choose to send the manuscript to both reviewers even if 1 reviewer requested minor revisions. 
      • Reviewers who looked at the previous stage of the manuscript will automatically be selected. They will be identified with “(R0)” if they were reviewers of the original submission, for example.
  • When all requested reviews are completed, the TE assigned to the manuscript makes a decision.  An e-mail notifying the TE that the manuscript is ready for a decision will be sent by the S1M system.
  • It is possible, but discouraged, to request that the author Revise an additional time, which sends the manuscript back to the author. The manuscript returns to the start of the Revised Manuscript Workflow with the revision number incremented by 1.
    •  In general, major revisions should at least improve the manuscript to a minor revision decision.  The TE, LE, and EIC should watch for “.R2” and higher manuscripts that still require major revision.  The TE, LE, and EIC may choose to reject such manuscripts for lack of improvement.
    • In general, minor revisions should result in an accept decision.  It is possible to issue multiple minor revisions, e.g. in case the author did not complete all revisions or if new typographical errors are found.  The TE, LE, and EIC should watch for “.R3” and higher manuscripts that still require minor revisions.

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Reject Decisions:

  • The S1M system produces a reject e-mail template.  The TE edits this template.  This will permit the TE to edit the content included from review score sheets appropriately.  The TE must declare a specific reason for rejection based on editorial guidelines. The TE must save the draft e-mail and commit to the decision.  Once committed, the manuscript has “rejected” status in the S1M system.
  • Common Grounds for Rejection include, but are not limited to:
    • Lack of technical merit: contains flaws in logic; erroneous conclusions; faulty judgments
    • Lack of impact: results of no consequence; trivial conclusions; insignificant advance of knowledge
    • Lack of originality: reproduces work reported previously; plagiarism; duplicate publication
    • Lack of improvement or insufficient revision
    • Violation of policies, scientific misconduct
  • The manuscript moves to the LE Approve Reject Decision task.
    • A notification is sent to the LE indicating that a reject decision is awaiting approval. The LE looks over the peer review process and the content of the draft reject e-mail. The LE may make amendments to the e-mail. 
    • The LE can send back the reject decision.  Sending the decision back transfers the manuscript back to the workflow from which it left, at the same revision stage. 
    • The LE should consult with the EIC.
    • The LE can approve the decision. Approving the decision forwards the e-mail notification to the EIC for review.
      • IEEE policies require two evaluations, other than the authority giving the reject decision, to evaluate any manuscript being rejected. In this case, the TE and LE have provided these evaluations, and the EIC is the authority giving the actual decision.
      • If the EIC agrees with the decision, then the decision e-mail should be confirmed, which will send it to the author. The EIC may request further editing.
    • Approving also tags the manuscript as Rejected in the S1M system.
    • The EIC may rescind the decision in the S1M system. This step un-does the Rejected status in the S1M system.  An e-mail to the author or the TE can be triggered, which the EIC can edit and state the reasons for changing the decision.
      • A rescinded decision can occur after the reject notice is sent to the author, e.g. to grant an appeal.
      • A rescinded decision reverts the manuscript to its previous decision step.

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Accept decisions

  • When the TE selects the Accept decision, an e-mail template is produced notifying the author about the final process. The TE may edit this e-mail.
  • The manuscript is transferred to the LE under the Approve Accepted Manuscripts task.
    • The LE should take a look at the peer review process.
    • The LE may choose to send back the manuscript to the TE for further consideration. A comment box allows the LE to explain why the manuscript was sent back. The manuscript will return to the decision stage from the workflow where the Accept decision was originally made.
    • The LE may choose to approve the manuscript. The LE can review the e-mail template to the author and make changes to the text. When finished, the approval will send the e-mail on to the author. 
    • Approving also tags the manuscript as Accepted in the S1M system.

Final file submission:

  • Authors follow instructions for uploading the final files.  This may include other items such as copyright forms.
  • The manuscript moves to the LE Assign Subject Digits task.  The subject categories appear on the inside cover of every issue of TAS.  The LE selects one appropriate category from the checklist that will appear in S1M.  This will create the middle 2 digits of the article number.
  • The manuscript exits the S1M editorial system and enters the IEEE Publications system.
  • IEEE Publications generates the final production of the manuscript.  The pdf file becomes available for download on IEEE Xplore.
  • Page proofs will be sent to the author.  The article cannot proceed further until the author approves the page proofs.
  • Publication of the full, final article, with complete article number, occurs.  The final article replaces the author-supplied pdf file on IEEE Xplore.

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Due dates and reminder hierarchy in the S1M configuration:

  • All e-mail templates should contain the manuscript ID number and the task in the subject line.
  • Tasks that are PENDING will trigger e-mail to the responsible party.
  • Tasks that are DUE will trigger e-mail to the responsible party.
  • Tasks that are OVERDUE will trigger e-mail to the responsible party with copy as follows:
    • Overdue author will copy the TE
    • Overdue TE will copy the LE
    • Overdue LE will copy the EIC
  • Tasks that are LONG OVERDUE or have received the FINAL NOTICE will trigger e-mail to the responsible party, with copy as follows:
    • Overdue author will copy both TE and LE
    • Overdue TE will copy both LE and EIC
    • Overdue LE will copy both EIC and Admin
  • Tasks that appear to have been dropped and require INTERVENTION will be handled as follows:
    • Task dropped by author will e-mail TE with copy to Admin (example: the option to revise has expired)
    • Task dropped by reviewer will e-mail TE with copy to LE (example: please find a new reviewer)
    • Task dropped by editor will e-mail the higher editor level with copies to EIC and Admin

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