Editorial process for submissions to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

The Central Editorial Service manages the editorial process for protocols, reviews, and updates submitted for publication on the CDSR.  

This description of the editorial process provides an insight into what happens to manuscripts after submission. For information on pre-submission steps, such as how to submit a proposal, please see Information for Authors. For resources to assist with authoring a Cochrane Review, and a description of the editorial process for authors, please see our author guidelines

Editorial independence and author support 

In order to maintain editorial independence, the Central Editorial Service does not have any part in pre-submission tasks; we cannot support authors with submitting proposals or writing manuscripts, or respond to methods queries. To find out what support is offered to authors working with Cochrane, please refer to our author guidelines or contact the Cochrane Support team.  

Overview of the editorial process  
(Click on the image to see a larger version) 


Step 1: Submission checks  

A Central Editorial Service Editorial Assistant performs an initial check on the submission and assigns the submission to a Central Editorial Service Managing Editor. The submission may be rejected at this stage if there are major concerns identified, in line with Cochrane’s rejection and appeals policy

Please note that the submission is not assigned to a Managing Editor until all authors have submitted their Declaration of Interest forms. This is so that the Editorial Assistant can confirm adherence to Cochrane’s Conflict of Interest Policy

Stage in Editorial Manager: ‘Submitted’ 


Step 2: Triage by Managing Editor 

The assigned Managing Editor performs an initial triage. A decision is made on whether to take the submission forward, and if so, whether to perform sequential peer review (methods and search review before content/clinical and consumer review), or parallel peer review (methods, search, content/clinical and consumer review concurrently; most submissions follow this process).  

If the Managing Editor has major concerns about the submission, it may be rejected at this stage, in line with Cochrane’s rejection and appeals policy.  

Stage in Editorial Manager: With Editor 


Step 3: Peer review 

The Managing Editor seeks comments from one methods peer reviewer, one search specialist, one consumer reviewer (patient, carer or family member with lived experience of the condition or intervention on which the review is focused) and content/clinical peer reviewers. The number of content/clinical peer reviewers is dependent on the article type and at the discretion of the Managing Editor; ordinarily two to three sets of comments are sought. The Managing Editor performs their own editorial checks on the review using a standard checklist. 

Authors are welcome to suggest suitable non-conflicted peer reviewers (with their contact details), but Managing Editors are free to decide themselves who to use as peer reviewers. At least one content/clinical reviewer must be identified independent of author recommendations. 

Please note that Cochrane has a named peer review policy, which means that the peer reviewers know the identity of the authors and vice versa. Consumer peer reviewers may request to be anonymous. In exceptional cases clinical/content peer reviewers may request anonymity, but this is subject to agreement by the Editor-in-Chief. 

When the peer-review process is complete, the Editorial Assistant performs a technical check and collates all peer reviewer comments. 

Stage in Editorial Manager: ‘Under review’. 


Step 4: First decision 

The Managing Editor assesses the peer-reviewer comments, adds their own comments, and annotates the collated comments document with guidance to authors where required. The Managing Editor makes an editorial recommendation for the Sign-off Editor, a senior content expert. The recommendation will be for major revision, minor revision, accept or reject. The Managing Editor may request further peer review or discuss issues with the Sign-off Editor.  

The Sign-off Editor reviews the peer reviewer comments, the guidance from the Managing Editor, and the recommended decision. The Sign-off Editor may suggest changes to the guidance or decision. The Managing Editor informs the authors of the decision.  

Stage in Editorial Manager: ‘Under review’ 


Step 5: Revision 

The authors revise the submission based on the editorial and peer reviewer comments.  

Stage in Editorial Manager: ‘Revise’ 


Step 6: Assessment of revised submission 

The Managing Editor assesses the author revisions and rebuttal. The Managing Editor makes an editorial decision for further minor revision, or an editorial recommendation for the Sign-off Editor of accept or reject. The Managing Editor may request peer reviewers re-review the revised version and rebuttal or they may discuss the revisions with the Sign-off Editor. 

Please note that we aim to limit rounds of revision and allow a maximum of one round of major and one round of minor revision. Manuscripts that do not meet the required standard after this point will be rejected in accordance with Cochrane’s rejection and appeals policy

The Managing Editor may edit the submission, for example for consistency across sections. If any edits are made, the edits are approved by the author before proceeding to sign off. Not all submissions will be edited before sign off. 

Stage in Editorial Manager: ‘With editor’ 

Step 7: Acceptance 

When the Central Editorial Service Managing Editor thinks a submission is ready to accept, they will pass it on to the Sign-off Editor to sign off the submission. The Sign-off Editor will have access to the comments made by reviewers and editors, author revisions, and rebuttal, in Editorial Manager. The Sign-off Editor may request further changes that result in a final round of revision.  

Once the Managing Editor and Sign-off Editor are satisfied with the scientific content of the submission, the Managing Editor will send an email to the author team, confirming the acceptance of their manuscript for publication.  

Stage in Editorial Manager: ‘Accepted’ 

Step 8: Production 

The submission will be copy-edited, approved by authors (potentially with involvement with the Central Editorial Service Managing Editor as required), and published. The production process is managed by the Central Production Service.