KWF Editorial was contracted to take on peer review management for a journal, and asked in particular to address journal leadership’s concerns that manuscripts were languishing in peer review and that an unacceptable backlog of accepted manuscripts had developed.

A KWF Editorial managing editor with 14 years of experience assessed the journal’s workflow and identified that there was no protocol in place for unassigning reviewers who had not responded to invitations to review or who had not completed their reviews in a timely manner.

The managing editor and a seasoned editorial associate worked diligently to accelerate the handling of manuscripts stuck in a protracted review process and, with permission from the editor, implemented a process to unassign reviewers who had not responded within a two-week time frame. The KWF managing editor worked in concert with the peer review system vendor to automate the process so as not to add an additional step to the workflow. The initiative led to a 30% decrease in the number of late reviews and to a nearly 50% reduction in overall turnaround time from manuscript receipt to first decision.

The problem of a lingering backlog of accepted manuscripts was also addressed. Prior to the workflow analysis, manuscripts were not sent to production until they were scheduled for an issue, which was often several months after acceptance. The KWF managing editor worked with the publisher to implement a new workflow that has helped to expedite the process, and accepted manuscripts are now being sent to production within 48 hours of acceptance so that they are publication-ready when assigned to an issue.