Peer review can’t work without reviewers! A major challenge in managing an academic journal, however, is finding and recruiting those very essential reviewers. That’s why at Scholastica, we’re always looking for ways to streamline the process.

Reviewers are generally donating their time, so they need a quick, easy way to assess an invitation to review (and the article that comes with it). Editors, meanwhile, need to be able to keep track of the many reviewers they’re working with.

We’ve recently rolled out several features to help meet these needs.

reviewer sign up

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You might notice things are looking a little different on Scholastica. We decided it was time to update our look and improve the design. To that end, we’ve tweaked our main typeface, removed the wooden background and incorporated some bolder colors, especially on buttons.

Most things are still where they were before, but the Dashboard has moved around some. You’ll notice that where your activity on Scholastica was tracked in a grid, those stats are now stacked vertically on the left. It’s also more colorful!

Like before, you can click some of the stats to view the sections of the site they correspond to: the number of manuscripts you’ve submitted will take you to your list of manuscripts and the same goes for your reviews.

We’re also calling points Karma now. Much of the work of scholarship - especially peer-reviewing - goes uncounted and we want to be sure those who do a lot of it are recognized for their contributions to knowledge. So, Scholastica Karma accrues as you perform actions on Scholastica.

We’ve got a few more improvements in the works, so keep an eye out for more to come!

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A frustration that authors often lament is the additional work that comes from receiving a decision of revise and resubmit on one of their manuscripts. The process of incorporating reviewer feedback to improve the article can take weeks - or even months – for authors to complete, which contributes to slower publication times. This is frustrating to authors, and frustrating to journal editors who want to speed up the journal’s review cycle.

While some see R&Rs as an inevitability, journals like Sociological Science have gained traction based in part by their refusal to issue R&Rs and instead only giving decisions of “accept” and “reject”. At Scholastica, we’ve spoken with many editors who find that R&Rs are an important part of the scholarly communication process that are worth being preserved, while also acknowledging the additional time and energy it takes for authors to make the revisions to an article.

In an effort to solve these issues around revise and resubmit decisions, Scholastica is proud to announce a new feature: Automatic revisions for authors on R&Rs.

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At Scholastica, we’ve hit the ground running this year - deploying a long list of improvements and new features to make the gauntlet of scholarly publishing more streamlined and less stressful.

Here’s a quick overview of how we’ve made Scholastica better in the last two months:

Editors

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  • Bigger Sticky Notes - Editors can say more with increased character limits on manuscript stickies.

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  • Customizable Submission Fees - We’ve added the option for non-law journals to collect their own submission fees.
  • Share files by default - If your journal regularly makes additional files, like data tables, available to reviewers, you can now configure your journal so that those files are shared by default - never leave a reviewer wondering if they’re missing something.
  • Helpful browser upgrade page - Some people may be trying to access Scholastica from older internet browsers that aren’t up to the task. Sometimes this is the difference between a scholar agreeing to review a paper or not. We send users on older browsers to a page that will help them upgrade - and that page has recently been made even more helpful and friendly.

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As tech entrepreneurs, we’re pretty much always “heads-down” working on our product – planning, building, selling. Other ideas flitter into our brains all the time and we think, "Wow, I could do X and it would be really useful to someone", but then just as quickly as the idea appeared we let it go because it could distract us from building our company.

However, sometimes we notice a problem and have an idea for a solution that inspires us to actually do something, to scratch your own itch while benefitting others as well.

After seeing the film 12 Years A Slave, our team noticed that while the written memoir was in the public domain, it was hard to read the book online in a modern format. The story is discoverable online, but either in the form of a PDF scan, error-ridden plain text, or on webpages made in the late 90s. Of course, none of these formats is pleasurable for people to read.

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Editors now have a new way to organize their manuscript workflow: a new notes section on the manuscript details page.

Examples of good uses for the notes field include:

  • Reminders to invite reviewers on a certain date
  • Notes about previous or simultaneous submissions
  • Any quick notes about how this manuscript deviates from the normal process

To add a note, just click and type. When you click anywhere else on the page, the note will flash a nice green checkmark so you know the changes were saved.

Quick feature update: moving forward, editors will be able to quickly view the word count for manuscripts submitted to their journal.

The word count can be viewed on the manuscript details page for each individual article.

Image of wordcount on manuscript details page

This feature only applies to manuscripts submitted beginning today, and will not be available for manuscripts submitted earlier.

At the end of the spring law journal submission season, we spoke with a number of legal authors about their experiences with Scholastica and received a ton of valuable feedback. We’re happy to report that we’ve been able to take that feedback and turn it into new features that we’re confident legal scholars will love!

  • New Submission Management Area for Authors
  • Better Expediting Process
  • Time Zone Support for Expedited Decision Requests
  • Easier Withdrawing
  • Greater Transparency
  • Compare Submissions on New ‘My Manuscripts’ Page

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Editors with experience using other journal submission software often tell us that "Scholastica is so much faster than my old system." We’re very proud of the way we’ve helped journals from STM to law reviews improve their process by making software that marries speed and a fantastic user experience.

Over the past few months we’ve spoken to editors, reviewers, and authors about their use of Scholastica and came up with some huge improvements based on their feedback.

In this post, I’d like to introduce you to these improvements which we call manuscript work areas.

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Scholastica’s new Editor Analytics page provides journals with metrics on individual editors and details the team’s review process, complementing the broad picture of journal performance already portrayed by the Journal Analytics page.

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