Frequently Asked Questions
Editors-in-Chief (EiCs) Respond

These questions have been answered by the individual Editors-in-Chief of each journal, and their combined answers are presented below. 

Editorial Board

  • How are associate editors and members of the editorial board selected and appointed?  What is their length of term?  

Process.  Associate Editors are selected based on scientific expertise and national/international reputation that are consistent with the mission and vision of the Journal, as well as bringing in new/different scientific expertise in fields that present opportunities for Journal growth. Each journal needs AEs with the expertise to handle a range of submissions appropriate to the scope of the journal Nominations are made, typically by other AEs, the Board of Reviewers and/or Publications Committee, CVs are collected, recommendations are solicited from Associate Editors and other scientists who are familiar with a nominee and the immediate needs of the journal. Interviews are held followed by discussion among the Editorial Board members before decision is made.  Associate Editors are expected to have sustained track records of research as Principal Investigator, experience in leadership positions (e.g., department chair, institute director, program director, etc.), peer-reviewed publications, and experience on other journal editorial boards and/or review panels for funding agencies in their country. Normally nominees for Associate Editor have published in the respective AAA Journal.

In addition, it is important to note that the selection process considers prior association with AAA, and that gender, ethnic and geographical diversity principles directly guide the process.

Length of term.  Newly appointed Associate Editors have a two-year contract for their first appointment to provide time to grow into the position, learn ScholarOne, and gain experience in managing submissions.  Subsequent renewal is one-year at a time.  This approach provides flexibility to modify the composition of the editorial board.  Associate editors typically hold their position from ~5 to 7 years (varies by Journal).

Board of Reviewers/Editorial Board members are typically appointed for 3 years, renewable.

  • What are the qualifications, roles, and responsibilities of the EiC, Associate Editors, and Board of Reviewers/Editorial Board members? How are their qualifications ensured?

Editor in Chief: The EiC sets the tone, direction, and energy for the Journal and has independence to lead.  Therefore, the EiC must be internationally renowned and have an established record of an independent research program in the field of the Journal.  In addition, the EiC must have an established track record in leadership roles and effective communication skills, as evidenced by academic appointments (e.g., department chair, dean, institute director, program director, etc.), academic society participation (e.g., elected official, committee chair, etc.), and scholarship (e.g., editorial boards, member of national/international scientific review panels, etc.).  The EiC assesses every incoming manuscript submission and assigns submissions to Associate Editors based on their content expertise.  Most importantly, the EiC is contractually obligated to perform in a manner consistent with the highest standards of professionalism, competence, integrity, and ethics, and not engage in any conduct that may bring harm or disrepute upon the Journal or the AAA.

Associate Editors (AEs): AEs participate in the tone, direction, and energy of the Journal, and have independence to lead. They actively encourage and invite the submission of first-rate articles to the journal. In addition, AEs are invited to suggest topics for Review articles and often contribute as managing editors to the creation of Special Issues consisting entirely of solicited themed articles.  AEs are assigned submission by the EiC, but they manage those submissions independently of the EiC, with the understanding that the EiC has the final say in the outcome.

Board of Reviewers/Editorial Board Members: Members are invited because of their expertise and publication track record, including papers in AAA journals.  Nomination and selection are based on scientific expertise and reputation, which are reflected by a sustained track record of peer-reviewed publications. Members of the Editorial Board are required to review papers in their area of scientific expertise. It is estimated that each Member will review 3-6 papers/year plus any revisions that are required. In addition, Editorial Board members are ambassadors of the journals in their respective fields, educational institutions, regions, and countries.

  • What efforts have been made to ensure the diversity of the Associate Editors and Board of Reviewers/Editorial Board members and Reviewers? 

In keeping with principles of equality, diversity, and inclusion, the three journals are engaged in recent directed efforts to solicit applications for AE and Board of Reviewer/Editorial Board positions from across the globe to ensure balance among gender, race, ethnicity, and geography. The diversity of individuals who agree to review a paper is a factor that some effort is being made to better address because journals struggle to find an adequate number of scientifically qualified reviewers who both agree and submit reviews for each submitted manuscript. In addition, the databases used to identify potential reviewers are not designed to identify gender, race, ethnicity, and geography. Going forward, the AAA journals will be more intentional in identifying and actively recruiting from underrepresented demographics for their Editorial Board and Board of Reviewers. 

Review Process:

  • Are manuscripts pre-screened by EiC or Associate Editors before distribution to reviewers? Are manuscripts ever rejected as unsuitable prior to peer-review? If so, what percentage of submitted manuscripts are rejected prior to review?  What kind of feedback is provided to authors in this case?

Manuscripts are pre-screened by the EiC to ensure that they fit within the aims and scope of the journal and are of sufficient quality to meet the journal’s standards. Papers can be rejected without review by either the EiC or the assigned AE. When a paper is found to fall outside the scope of the journal, the EiC will typically indicate as such in the rejection email and offer suggestions of journal categories for which the paper would be a better fit. Manuscripts may also be rejected prior to peer review if they do not contain the necessary ethical requirements (e.g., IACUC, IRB approvals). Manuscripts are also evaluated using a plagiarism checker prior to per review, and submissions with significant overlap with previously published papers will either be rejected or returned to the author with a request to rephrase. In all cases, if a manuscript is not sent out for peer review, an explanation is provided in the rejection email. 

Pre-screen rejection has no predetermined percentage for rejection without review (immediate rejection) or quota to be rejected without review. The range of manuscripts we receive is extremely variable with respect to topic, fit, and scientific quality, so the percent rejected varies greatly from year to year and from journal to journal. All journal metrics, including submissions, immediate rejections, rejections after review, accepted publications, time to review, time to first decision, time to publication post-decision are automatically tracked in the metrics WILEY provides quarterly to the EiCs and Publications Committee, as well as to the Board of Directors of the AAA at Spring and Autumn meetings.

Papers that are rejected without review are returned to the authors with comments explaining the basis of the decision and suggestion for journals for better fit. Authors are always welcome to reply to the email and request further information. 

  • How are reviewers of a manuscript selected? How are the expertise and qualification of a reviewer ensured? 

Appropriate reviewers are selected from: (i) Board of Reviewers/Editorial Members; (ii) author suggestions for preferred and non-preferred reviewers; (iii) recommendations from the ScholarOne (our manuscript submission system) reviewer database, which matches manuscript keywords with potential reviewers and their publications; (iv) EiC and AE knowledge of suitable colleagues in the field; (v) recommendations from invited potential reviewers who decline; and (vi) PubMed or other database search for experts who have recently published in the specific field required. 

  • How many reviewers are solicited per manuscript?  Does this number ever vary?  If so, what factors determine the ideal number of reviewers for a manuscript? 

Two to three reviews are typically needed to adequately assess each submission. In order to obtain two or three reviewer commitments, it is often necessary to invite as many as six to ten reviewers, as many will decline. Three reviews is better for “Research Articles” because this number lessens the chance of a split decision that can occur with only two reviewers. However, for invited review articles, commentaries, perspectives or short articles, two reviewers may be enough because quality control was used to preselect invited authors. Depending on the type of manuscript, the number of reviewers is typically very consistent, however, occasionally the normal number of reviewers can be very hard to identify, due either to the niche-nature of the topic or other extenuating circumstances and in these events fewer reviewers than normal might be used (the occurrence of only one review being returned is extremely rare, but a decision would never be based on a single review. Under these circumstances the EiC or an AE would step in to provide the required review). However, preference is to find a second independent reviewer provided that the search does not delay the review process too much. Occasionally, more than three reviews are provided to authors, which can happen when invited reviewers do not respond in designated time, but rather submit reviews after their replacement has been identified. If these late reviews have merit, they are included with the response to authors, or if the original three were somehow insufficient (e.g., lack of detail, contradictory). 

  • What procedures are used to assess the quality of reviews? What steps are taken if a review is considered unfair or inappropriate by the EiC? Can the submitting author contact the EiC or associate editor to challenge the fairness or appropriateness of a review?

ScholarOne provides rating evaluations for each reviewer, which the EiC and assigned AE complete.  ScholarOne uses these evaluations to generate scores for every reviewer.  These scores are based on the timeliness and scientific value of the review. The higher the score for review excellence, the more often that the reviewer will be invited to review subsequent submissions. Reviewers are automatically notified of overdue reviews through ScholarOne-generated emails and via direct EiC and/or assigned AE contact. Reviewers are remarkably responsive and apologetic when an EiC and/or assigned AE eventually rescinds the review invitation, with a note about the unfairness of their delay to the authors.
If a review is deemed unfair or inappropriate, the EiC and/or assigned AEs have a responsibility to either reject the review, ask the reviewer to revise their language accordingly, delete any offending comments in the review, or invite a new reviewer. Authors may write to the EiC and/or assigned AE to discuss concerns about a review.

  • Do Associate Editors or the EiC provide an overview to authors in addition to individual reviewers’ comments? Does this include guidance with respect to resubmission or submission to an alternative journal?

The EiC and/or assigned AE for each manuscript reads the reviews in detail and then in the decision letter provides an overall summary of any critical revisions that need to be addressed, which is sent together with the reviews to the authors. If the handling editor finds any of the reviewers’ suggestions unnecessary or unjustified, they typically indicate as much in the decision letter.  In general, guidance is provided to improve the manuscript such that it will be acceptable to the AAA Journal in question. Otherwise, other more suitable journals will be suggested.


  • What percentage of submitted manuscripts are eventually published?

Across the three journals, published manuscripts represent between 20 and 40% of submissions.

  • What is the difference between “accepted”, “early view,” “in press” and “published”?

An accepted paper means that the EiC and/or assigned AE decided that the submitted version has satisfied the reviewers’ and editor’s critiques and will be suitable for publication. The submission is uploaded to ScholarOne, where it will be posted by Wiley on the journal website as an “accepted article”. These articles are published online in submitted manuscript format prior to copy editing and formatting. At this point, the digital object identifier (DOI) number is assigned, and the article is citable. Once the Production Team creates the journal-designed format (page proofs) of the article and the author has reviewed and approved them, it is posted on “early view”, which is the online version of record before inclusion in the specific issue. “In press” refers to any timepoint from the moment a paper is accepted until it appears in a specific journal issue.

  • What is a typical peer-review process timeline?  What is the average number of resubmissions per manuscript?

Reviewers are typically given two weeks to submit their review. Allowing time for the EiC to read the submission to perform their checks, assign the submission to an AE to manage the review process, the assigned AE to recruit reviewers and receive their reviews, and then decide, the total time is typically 3-5 weeks. See above comments about individual Journal metrics, which WILEY provides quarterly to the EiCs and Publications Committee and semi-annually to the AAA Board of Directors. 

Most submissions go through one round of resubmission (R1 version), but a considerable number go through two rounds of revisions (R2, R3, etc.).  The number is not as important as ensuring that the submission continues to improve and ultimately satisfies the editor’s and reviewers’ critiques.

  • How does the editorial process ensure that high-quality work is published, and lower quality work is not? Do the EIC and associate editors carry out routine analyses of the publication process?

The mechanism for ensuring that only high-quality work that falls within the scope of the journal is published, is transparent as described above and involves quality control assurance through knowledgeable EiCs, AEs, and peer reviewers.  The assigned AEs review the reviewers’ comments and the EiC reviews their respective comments. The journals benefit from active scientists in these roles instead of non-scientist managing editors who do not conduct research and are not involved in education activities.

The three journals evaluate every aspect of the peer review process and the decision process, using analytics available through Wiley during our quarterly and yearly strategy meetings with Wiley. All submissions are assessed by principles of scientific rigor, including compliance with international regulations for ethical conduct of research and protection of study subjects (World Medical Association. 2013. World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki: Ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects. JAMA 310:2191-2194; Albertine KH. 2018. Stewardship of integrity in scientific communication. Anat Rec 301:1481-1487).