MustRead - Journal Model

Herein we further elaborate on ATC’s unique publishing model, which is also summarized in “About the Journal.”

Only authors who understand this unique new model and feel comfortable should consider submission.

Topics of Concern

Traditional Publishing Model

The ATC Publishing Model

Review Timelines

Observation: Initial reviews could come in after 6m to 18m. Sometimes it takes several months to merely draw a conclusion as simple as “This paper does not fit into the scope of journal.”

Why: Reviewers could be very busy in their own academic life. Reviewing is voluntary and often has the relatively lower priority.

The “5D5W” Model : Decision on “Accepted for Review” (or not) is made in 5 business days/one week. After that, first detailed review result will be made available in 5 weeks.

The Dedicated Editor (DE) is a full-time reviewer. Each review itself is a dedicated and concentrated project.

Real-time Communication

Observation: There is not much communication during the review process. Editor-In-Chief awaits for the Associate Editor (AE) while the AE awaits for the Reviewers. The Reviewers are not supposed to contact the authors in real time for clarification.

Why: The Single- or Double-Blindness is designed for “fairness,” but at the heavy cost of efficiency. Simple but key clarifications may have to wait for 6m to 18m.

The traditional “Blindness” model is replaced by the “Transparency” model.

Once Accepted for Review, the Dedicated Editor (DE) may communicate with the Corresponding Author(s) in real time on matters related to the scientific or technical contents of a manuscript.

"Back Pains" with Backlogs

Observation: For most journals already into existence for a number of years, issues are heavily backlogged. Articles fully ready in 2020, say, could have to wait to be published in 2022. (Hence some offer “On-line First.”)

What’s worse, this is also the fundamental driver causing Editors/AEs to backlog the Articles under Reviews – there is absolutely no incentive to speed up when production articles have already been in long queues.

Articles will be published online in real time, as long as they are ready in production.

As a result, the total number of publications each quarter or year will be allowed to fluctuate. This is the “market-driven” model, vs. planned.

(A conventional journal is inevitably constrained by the targeted page range of a printed "issue" so that the physical booklet is neither too thin nor too thick.)  

Quality Control –Reviewer Control

Observations: The majority of journals rely on three or two independent reviewers per submission. In reality, AEs often have to work with two reviewers/referees, or one plus AE’s own evaluation. For each manuscript, it is operating more like a blackbox.

Why: For decades and even hundreds of years, referees/reviewers are always voluntary. When they are occupied by high-priority matters, reviews may never come or degenerate into only a couple of very brief passages.

ATC employs a single Dedicated Editor (DE) to review each article, in full time.

This is new and experimental, and may entail its own reputational risk.

The Question is: Will a single and full-time DE and a dedicated review necessarily result in poorer review qualities than two non-dedicated and often rushing reviewers? Only time will tell.

Quality Control –


With a large pool of voluntary reviewers, topics can be non-discretionary, as long as they are in scope for the journal.

Discretionary – manuscripts with topics or methodologies beyond the judgment of the DE will be returned.

Hence returning does not always signal poor qualities in the ATC model.

Quality Control – Number Control


A traditional journal, be it open-access or not, may market itself aggressively in order to achieve a targeted revenue, or for the readiness of individual issues when there are not enough articles.

Say, on average there are 15 articles per issue, and 6 issues a year. Then it will have a hard target of about 90 articles per year. Editors must work hard to achieve this goal, even artificially.

Moderately for profit (see "Fee Statement"), but ATC will not market itself aggressively merely to reach a certain pre-defined level of revenue or number of articles. (It will only spread the news about its existence.)

There is no pre-defined or targeted number of articles per period. ATC only accepts articles from authors who are comfortable with the ATC model.

Quality Control –

Backlog Control

No control. Accepting new submissions even there have been accumulated a huge pile of backlogs.

Will temporarily suspend the submission system if there are already 5 submissions currently under review.

This will allow the DE to conduct quality reviews. For ATC, each dedicated review itself is a research project that demands concentration and deep diving.

Quality Control –

Author Control

No control on how often an author can submit manuscripts.

As a result, due to academic establishment, some authors may inevitably dominate some journals during some periods.

Some open journals may chase for revenues and ignore potential conflicts of interests. Some “rich” authors (in terms of funding) could become the main revenue source.

During any 6m moving-window period, any given author can only submit once.

This is examined and controlled manually by the DE.

Exceptions are granted only for exceptional situations (e.g., invited review articles, special issues, etc)

To sum up, the notion of Dedicated Editor (DE) is a unique invention of the journal, adventurous, and probably risky, but only time will tell. It is certainly a bit difficult to generalize, and actually could become detrimental to academic reputation and integrity if being abused.

A meaningful analogy is perhaps the following. When one needs a new glasses prescription, instead of turning to big chain stores such as Lens Crafters or Cohen’s full of staffs, one steps into a small and old-fashioned optical shop in Harvard Square, where the owner does all the job for you – from eye examination to lens and frame selection. This analogy also reveals the key -- DE has to be a true expert or at least has been adequately trained and knows sufficiently well about the field. And then in return, the DE’s professional services can be properly compensated, for which please read our Fee Statement.