Gradual Engagement Workflows for Simplified Submission and Initial Evaluation in EM

Authors are often required to provide an extensive amount of information upfront in order to submit a manuscript to a scholarly journal. However, many submissions received by publications never pass the initial evaluation stage, with Editors immediately declining the submission if it is not within the scope of the journal. This results in a loss of time and effort for both Authors and Editors. To help simplify this process, Editorial Manager® (EM) offers custom configuration options to allow publications to adopt a gradual engagement workflow approach.


What is gradual engagement and how does it apply to the editorial process?

Gradual engagement is built into the user experience (UX) and allows use of, or access to, all or part(s) of an application prior to users providing all of the required information needed for long-term use. Instead, users can provide the minimum necessary information forthright, and submit the rest of the data required at a later time.

In the traditional editorial process, submissions often require multiple files and supplemental data for publication, such as lengthy questionnaires, disclosures, high-quality image collection, co-Author information, etc. However, only some of this information is required for initial review and triage by the editorial office. By configuring an EM journal site to comply with a gradual engagement workflow, publications can streamline the submission process and make the initial evaluation process more flexible. This improves Author satisfaction, enhances the Editor experience, and offers greater transparency and shorter turnaround on feedback for submissions.


Configuration options for a gradual engagement workflow 

For journals interested in implementing gradual engagement, there are several time-saving configurations that can be adjusted in the submission and initial triage workflows.

Initial Submission Process Configuration

  • Article types can be configured so only “preliminary” article types are visible for unsolicited submissions. “Full” article types can be reserved for submissions that are approved for full review.
  • Submission items required for initial submission can be configured per article type. In most cases, all journal offices really need to complete their initial triage is the manuscript file. Additional submission items and file types, such as tables, images, metadata and other supplemental data, can be deferred to revision if they pass initial evaluation.
  • Configure questionnaires to limit the number of questions for specific article types for an initial submission. Additional questions can be re-displayed during the revision process to collect other essential information. For even additional granularity, questions can be split between submission and Author questionnaires. The Additional Information step can be hidden entirely during the submission process, if desired.
  • Additional steps in the submission process can be hidden if desired, such as Reviewer Preferences, Classifications, Comments, etc.
  • Configure Co-Author metadata extraction to be disabled for new submissions for specific article types. Co-Author data can be extracted and verified at revision instead, or can be disabled entirely. (New with EM/PM version 17.0!)

New with version 17.0, adjustments to Article Type configuration can be completed in batch! Publications can now apply these configuration settings to multiple article types simultaneously, making adopting gradual engagement even easier for journal offices.

Initial Evaluation Process Configuration

  • Editors with configured role permissions can submit an Early Decision for a new submission without technical check or editor assignment (Editors can assign themselves, if desired). This allows for easier reporting and reassignment at revision.
  • Change the article type on a new submission to a different article type that is hidden from Authors at submission. This allows journals to collect information at three different revision levels instead of two, and “locks in” the article type (and its configured settings) for Authors so the selection step is suppressed during submission.
  • Set up multiple technical checklists and configure per article type and per revision level. Technical checks can be deferred to revision or disabled entirely for specific article types. Technical check history is also enhanced to identify the checklist used for each submission, which serves as an audit trail. (New with version 17.0!)
  • New reports can be created, such as separate decision reports for pre-submission inquires (e.g. how many were converted to a full submission), and calculating turn-around times for pre-submission inquiries vs. full submissions.


Gradual engagement is not appropriate for all journals, but is an alternative option to the traditional initial submission triage process and can make the overall workflow more straightforward, relieving some of the burden for Authors and journal staff. Publications can implement a gradual engagement approach while still configuring their Editorial Manager sites to comply with their specific journal policies.

To learn more about gradual engagement workflows and configuration options for your EM sites, watch our webinar or consult your Aries Account Coordinator.