Topical Collections – Guidelines for Guest Editors

Preparing a Proposal

Guest Editors (GE) should contact the Publishing Editor, Rachel Moriarty (rachel.moriarty@springer.com), with their proposal idea to ensure it is relevant and there is space in the Publication Schedule for the Topical Collection (TC).

The proposal should contain the following information:

  • Provisional title for the Topical Collection
  • A one‐page outline summarising the objectives of the Topical Collection or a PDF of the Call for Papers (if for an open Topical Collection)
  • The names, affiliations, official homepages and institutional/professional email addresses of all Guest Editors
  • A paragraph stating how the GEs plan to undertake robust, independent peer review
  • Provisional time schedule and a deadline for submission of the papers for the TC
  • [OPTIONAL] List of potential contributions (no more than 12-14 papers should be accepted per Topical Collection)

If there are several Guest Editors involved in a Topical Collection, one Guest Editor will be required to act as the “Lead” Guest Editor. The Lead Guest Editor will receive the submissions to their account in the Editorial Manager (EM) software used for managing all papers submitted.

If your proposal is accepted, you will be contacted by the Journal Editorial Office to set up the topical collection. For this you will need a final title of the TC and a Short Title for Editorial Manager (no more than 75 characters, including spaces. The format should be “T.C.: ***(TC Name)***.)

Please note: the title of your TC and the Guest Editor names must be correct when set-up in Editorial Manager. No changes can be made after this point.

We require our Guest Editors to familiarise themselves with the editorial and publication policies of the journal and our Springer Nature Code of Conduct before they undertake their TC. You can find links to these below:

Peer Review Procedure

Submission

Guest Editors of a TC will receive an individual login in the Editorial Manager online system. The Lead Guest Editor will be responsible for assigning manuscripts to other Guest Editors. All Guest Editors will be expected to handle and distribute manuscript assignments among reviewers who will be selected by the Guest Editors.

It is the Guest Editors' role to identify and invite authors to submit papers for the Topical Collection, and submissions are expected to be of the highest quality in terms of science and presentation. They should also ensure that all papers submitted conform to the editorial and publication policies of the journal (see “Submission Guidelines” link above). If this is an open SI, please ensure a Call for Papers is provided to the Editorial Team.

Submissions to TC must be done through the Springer Editorial Manager online reviewing system on: https://www.editorialmanager.com/aiet. Instructions for Authors can be found at https://www.springer.com/journal/43681/submission-guidelines.

Each manuscript submitted must be original, not published formally elsewhere, and must be peer reviewed by at least two specialists in the field. Guest Editors are expected to handle all aspects of the papers’ review and editorial decisions in an efficient and timely manner.

Conference Papers

If a Topical Collection is to be offered as a follow-up to a conference or a workshop, GEs are responsible for ensuring that the contents of the manuscripts submitted to the Topical Collection differ from the conference papers (we expect roughly 30% new content). Any potential copyright and self-plagiarism issues have to be avoided in advance. Extended papers to be published on the TC can contain a specific note referencing the conference paper and providing information about the extended content.

Archived/Preprint Versions of Papers

Springer journals encourage posting of preprints of primary research manuscripts on preprint servers, authors’ or institutional websites, and open communications between researchers whether on community preprint servers or preprint commenting platforms. Preprints are defined as an author’s version of a research manuscript prior to formal peer review at a journal, which is deposited on a public server (as described in Preprints for the life sciences. Science 352, 899–901; 2016); preprints may be posted at any time during the peer review process. Posting of preprints is not considered prior publication and will not jeopardize consideration at Springer journals. More information can be found here: https://www.springer.com/gp/open-access/preprint-sharing/16718886.

Authorship Change Request Form

We generally do not permit authorship changes after submission, and certainly not after acceptance of a manuscript. If there are exceptional circumstances warranting a change to the authorship in a paper submitted to a Topical Collections, then authors can make this request and the form will be sent to the Editorial Office for review. If the change is approved, we will alert the relevant Guest Editors.

Submissions by Guest Editors

We occasionally permit Guests Editors to publish a paper in their own TC, but this must be agreed with the Editors-in-Chief in advance. Upon submission, the Journal Editorial Office will assign the paper to the Editors-in-Chief or relevant Associate Editor who will handle the peer review and make the final decision on the paper.

Reviewer Checking, Allocation and Ethical Responsibility

Assigning a Reviewer

Criteria for a suitable reviewer:

  • Active in a relevant field and/or methodology as judged by their publication record. Ideally published more than 10 articles in the last 10 years.
  • Not too senior as they are likely to be very busy.
  • Free of potential bias, i.e.
  • No co-publication with an author of the submitted manuscript in the last 5 years
  • Not currently or recently affiliated at the same institution (i.e. within the past year)
  • Not excluded by the authors (we allow authors to exclude up to 3 reviewers)
  • Reviewers should be ‘independent’ of one another i.e. not both work at the same lab/institution.
  • Has an official email address, not personal (e.g. “gmail” or similar)

Where it makes sense to be flexible:

  • Where a reviewer has co-published with an author once or twice as a small proportion of a prolific publishing history.
  • Where a reviewer has co-published with an author once or twice in articles with an extensive author list, e.g. a multi-centre trial.
  • Where a reviewer is junior, but exactly on topic, especially if their supervisor agrees to look at the report before it is submitted and includes their name.
  • Where it would make valid peer review impossible if requests for exclusion were honored.

Reviewer Citation Recommendations

We welcome reviewers guiding authors on expanding their literature review, however if a reviewer asks authors to cite their own papers, this should be investigated as this could be a breach of our publishing ethics in the form of “citation manipulation” – please reach out to the Publishing Editor for support in this.

Problems Finding Reviewers or Making a Decision?

If you still struggle to find sufficient reviewers, you may be able to provide a brief report on a manuscript yourself or make a considered decision/recommendation based on one detailed report from a senior peer reviewer, although this should be a last resort.  We would advise that you assess the experience and expertise of the reviewer, as well as the level of detail and thoroughness of their report before you reach a decision/recommendation. We would also encourage you to provide your own comments to the authors; you can also act as a second reviewer and provide a report yourself.

For cases where the report is not sufficiently detailed, or the reviewer is very junior, or you are not familiar with the topic, then you should seek further reviewers or the opinion of the Editors-in-Chief.

Additional tools to help you search:

  • Google Scholar  - This searches the full text of each article, not just the abstract. Using the advanced search you can restrict the search to certain journals, dates and authors.
  • Springer Nature Reviewer Finder - To use the tool simply enter information about the manuscript you are sending out for review into the Reviewer Finder and it will return a list of possible reviewers

Making a Decision

Reject Decisions

When rejecting a manuscript, whether before or after peer-review, it is important to provide authors with reasons for rejection and feedback that they can work on in future.  We therefore ask you always to provide comments for the authors when rejecting manuscripts explaining your reasoning. For manuscripts that are scientifically sound, but do not fall within the scope or threshold of

There are two reject decision terms for the journal:

  • Reject (and transfer)
    • This should be used for any out of scope papers, or those that do not meet the high novelty requirements of the journal

The decision terms under this category are “Decline and *Transfer*” (preferred), “Reject”, “Admin Reject”

  • Reject – do not transfer
    • This should be used for any papers where you have ethical concerns about the paper
    • The decision term under this category is “Reject, do not Transfer”

Accept Decisions

We operate on the policy that “no paper is perfect upon first submission”. This is why we do not permit any “accept as is” recommendations from our peer reviewers after the first round of review. If such a decision is received, we ask you to discount the review and assign another reviewer to the paper. One exception to this is when the Topical Collection is based on a conference, and the Guest Editors have informed the journal (and provided appropriate evidence) that papers have already been pre-reviewed prior to submission to the journal.

Accept recommendations should be made on the basis of at least one round of review, 2 robust and independent reviewer reports and your own reading of the manuscript. These recommendations will be passed back to the Editors-in-Chief for their decision. They will send the final decision to the authors.

You should be aware that a reviewer may flag an issue not raised by the other reviewer because they have more expertise in a particular aspect. If there are any issues you would like the authors to focus on, that have not been raised by the reviewers, you can include these in your comments to the Editors-in-Chief. At present, there is no section for entering your justification/comments to authors directly alongside your recommendation. Please therefore include your comments in the ‘Confidential Comments to Editor’ box when submitting your recommendation, above any confidential comments made by reviewers and label them as your own.

PLEASE NOTE: No more than 12-14 papers should be accepted for any one Topical Collection. This is a strict limit, and exceptions must be agreed with the Editors-in-Chief before any papers are accepted.

Publication

Guest Editors are welcome to submit a Preface/Editorial for the Topical Collection once all papers are accepted, and can liaise with the Editors-in-Chief and Publishing Editor regarding the requirements for this.

Once the papers have been accepted by the Editors-in-Chief, they are then transmitted to the publisher’s production department. Proofs will be available online for the Guest Editors to review and approve before online publication.

Please note that colour figures and images are reproduced free of charge in electronic form. There is a page charge for colour in print and for Open Access: please visit the journal homepage for more information.

When the Topical Collection appears in print, the title and names of the Guest Editors will appear on the cover and the contents page.

Key Contacts