How to Make Peer Review Recommendations and Decisions

This page provides reviewers, editors, guest editors, and editors-in-chief with a guide to making recommendations and decisions about submitted papers in our peer review system.
Share this on:

IEEE Computer Society publications use ScholarOne Manuscripts for submission, peer review, and decision tracking. Reviewers, editors, and guest editors (GEs) make a recommendation about a submission, whereas the editor-in-chief (EIC) makes the decision that determines its final outcome. Explanations of the recommendation and decision options are provided below.

EICs, editors, and GEs may conduct an initial review of a submission before assigning reviewers to weed out poorly written papers or those that are not within the scope of the publication or special issue (SI). Please see our policies on prescreening submissions. For submissions that are sent for review, the first recommendations are made by the reviewers. Reviewer recommendations must be well-justified and explained in detail. Note that GEs may not act as reviewers for their SI.

Once a submission has the required number of reviews as specified in ScholarOne, the editor or GE receives notification that it’s time to make a recommendation. Normally, three independent reviews are required, although some publications may allow two reviews under some circumstances. IEEE policy requires that no fewer than two independent reviews be obtained. If the editors/GEs are having difficulty obtaining a third review, they should discuss options with the EIC.

Editors/GEs make recommendations based on reviewer remarks and their own assessment of the manuscript. The editor/GE recommendation must provide clear indication and explanation of the changes the authors must make or must address if a revision recommendation is made. If the editor/GE recommendation conflicts with the reviews, or if the reviews conflict with one another, the editor/GE must explain the basis of the recommendation to help clarify the rationale of the recommendation. For GEs, the SI’s page allocation is a factor in recommendations. In some cases, high-quality articles that are not selected for the SI may be moved to the publication’s regular submission queue.

When the editor/GE posts a recommendation, the EIC is immediately notified that it’s time to make a decision. The EIC must promptly convey a decision to the author(s) via a decision letter. This letter will include comments provided by the reviewers and editor/GE, and it will be sent to all the authors. The editor/GE will receive notification of the decision. All decisions are final.


Recommendation/Decision Options

Accept: The submission is adequate “as is” with no changes required. If you are a GE, this recommendation means that you want to include the manuscript in your SI. 

Minor Revision: The submission requires a few changes. If you are a GE, this recommendation means that you want to include the manuscript in your SI, but you feel that there are relatively minor changes the authors need to make first. The revised manuscript might not go back to the reviewers if the editor/GE determines that the revisions are sufficient and appropriate.

Major Revision: The submission requires significant changes. Any revision in length by more than 10% should be a major revision. If you are a GE, this recommendation means that you might want to include the manuscript in your SI, but the authors need to make significant changes before it will be considered further. Major revisions go through a second round of review and are assigned to the same editor/GE. We strongly recommend that the editor/GE uses the same reviewers to evaluate the revised manuscript. 

If a paper has already gone through two rounds of reviews, the option of a second major revision is not available because the authors were given specific instructions and did not fulfill the requirements. If a major overhaul is still required before the paper can be further considered, editors/GEs should recommend rejecting the submission (this could also include the “Revise and Resubmit” option described below).

Revise and Resubmit: The submission is not suitable for publication, but the authors are encouraged to revise and resubmit upon rejection. Authors can be instructed to request that the same editor/GE be assigned to their new submission, increasing the chances of an expedited review. If a publication does not have a “Revise and Resubmit” option, the publication may not permit the resubmission of a rejected article, even after extensive revisions have been made.

Reject: The submission is not suitable for publication, and future submissions of the article will not be considered for review, even after further revisions. If you are a GE, this recommendation means that you do not want to include the manuscript in your SI. 

Administrative Reject (including Out of Scope): The submission has any of the following deficiencies, as described in the IEEE Publication Services and Products Board (PSPB) Operations Manual (PDF) Section 8.2.2.A.3 (reviewers will not be assigned):

  • Does not follow the IEEE guidelines for style. 
  • Obviously violates IEEE policies. 
  • Is incomprehensible (in other words, so poorly written that it is unreadable). 
  • Does not fall within the scope of the publication or SI.

Editorial Reject: The submission does not meet the minimum criterion for technical substance established for the periodical (reviewers will not be assigned).

  • If an editorial reject is appealed by the author, the EIC must consult with at least two members of the editorial board to see if they agree with the rejection. Upholding the rejection requires that the EIC and those consulted agree on the appropriateness of the rejection.