Manuscript Submission Systems
As most academics and scientists who aim to publish their research are no doubt aware, the grand majority of scholarly journals now use web-based electronic manuscript submission systems to receive submissions and revisions and facilitate communication among authors, editors and reviewers. Although these online systems can introduce problems and cause considerable frustration at times, they can also save time and resources. The trick is to learn how to use them effectively and efficiently, so this post explains the basics of journal submission systems to get you started.

Fortunately, most of the electronic manuscript submission systems used by academic and scientific journals are relatively straightforward and include instructions for authors. These instructions may appear among the journal’s guidelines or on a separate page dedicated to submitting manuscripts, but often they can be found in help boxes and popup windows within the submission system itself. To access these you will need to register for an account, which will allow you to explore the submission system of your target journal to determine what is expected in terms of required information and file sizes and formats. A little familiarity with the journal’s submission system will make the process easier when you are ready to submit your manuscript.

Using a Journal’s Manuscript Submission System To Submit Your Paper
To begin the submission process, you will need to log in to your account. With most manuscript submission systems, this will land you on an author home page where you can initiate a new submission. The order in which information is entered varies among journals and some will require more data than others, but selecting the type of paper or article is often required first. The title of the manuscript is always necessary, along with the author names and affiliations for co-authored papers, and the abstract will usually need to be typed or pasted in as well. Check this information carefully for typing errors and glitches that might have been introduced while copying and pasting. You may be able at this or a later stage to add other information associated with your paper as well, such as keywords, taxonomy topics, highlights and references.

All the files for your paper will then need to be uploaded to the manuscript submission system. Make sure that you read the instructions on file types and sizes carefully to ensure that you provide the main text, tables, figures and any supplementary materials as well as your cover letter in the exact formats required and that you do not exceed any size limits. In many systems you will also have an opportunity to upload further research material such as raw and processed data, protocols, methods and materials, translations and videos that could help editors and reviewers evaluate your research and paper. You may need to select a category for your manuscript as well, choose an editor from the journal’s selection and/or suggest possible peer reviewers for your research. Each journal’s system will dictate what is necessary via dropdown lists and dedicated text boxes.

The final step in the submission process involves downloading the PDF that the system has created from the files you uploaded. The conversion of your documents for inclusion in this file may take a few minutes, but as soon as the PDF is ready, you can click the Download button to view and check the file. Be sure to examine this document very carefully indeed: this is the version of your submission that peer reviewers will be reading, and conversion software can make a mess of certain elements such as special characters, equations and table layout. You will need to confirm that you have reviewed the PDF and approve it before the submission process is complete, and you may also have to confirm that you have adhered to the journal’s publication ethics, have no conflicts of interest associated with the submission, have not submitted the manuscript for consideration elsewhere and accept the journal’s copyright agreement.

After your submission is complete, you can return to your author home page at any time to check on the status of your manuscript. You will also receive communications from editors and reviewers on this page and be able to agree to or decline editorial requests for revisions and resubmissions. Due dates for both are posted on most manuscript submission systems, and links are usually provided to the letters and comments from editors and reviewers, allowing you to consider exactly what is wanted and make informed decisions about whether to revise and resubmit or not. By clicking the Agree to Revise button, you can begin the revision and resubmission process that will end when you check and approve the new PDF of your revised manuscript.