Crisis Management Considerations

Purpose: The CSE Editorial Policy Committee has developed this list of crisis management considerations for editorial offices and scholarly publishing service providers. It is the hope of the Committee that this list will be helpful to CSE Members and all scientific publishing stakeholders in creating and maintaining a plan to prepare for and manage unexpected crises such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic but can apply in other circumstances, such as natural disasters, as well.

Editorial Office Operations Management

General operations

  • Are there changes in workload that might require staff reductions or additional staffing, temporary staffing, or outsourcing? Consider cross-training in advance to ensure business continuity.
  • Establish plans for delegation of authority
  • Does the crisis prohibit some editors and/or editorial staff from fulfilling all their responsibilities?
  • Are there areas where workflow should be adjusted to compensate for the impact of the crisis (e.g., fewer format requirements/return to authors at initial submission, longer turnaround time to cope with the influx of new papers, shorter turnaround times for typesetting, proofing, etc.)?
  • Are there budget considerations due to the crisis that might impact the workflow?
  • Are there new security issues that need to be addressed?
  • Technology infrastructure (virtual, secure, offsite servers, and/or cloud-based back-up)
  • Emergency response procedures
  • Contingencies for access to work areas (e.g.is there an alternate workspace? Remote work only?)
  • Access to documentation
  • Resumption, recovery, and restoration procedures

Policy changes

  • Should general information be posted online (including website and author instructions, manuscript submission system, and social media) to avoid repeat inquiries and confusion?
  • Are there any changes to current policies as they are listed online or communicated to stakeholders including authors, reviewers, editors, and others?

Public communication of policy changes

  • Where should this information be communicated (e.g. what location on journal website is best—submission platform, email templates, etc.)?
  • Anything authors should know prior to submission should be available in the author instructions and submission system.
  • Anything readers need to know should be posted on the journal website.
  • Anything reviewers need to know should be in the invitation e-mail.
  • Practice heightened sensitivity about methods of communication, how communications are worded, their timing, and their frequency during this period.
  • Ensure that there is transparency about critical changes (e.g. is a different triage or peer review method being applied?)

Reviewer implications and adjustments

  • How does the current crisis impact reviewers? Are temporary changes needed to the review process such as additional extensions or faster turnaround time?
  • What, if any, impact will the current crisis have on reviewer fatigue?
  • Do reviewer invitation templates need to be updated?
  • Does the scope of what the reviewer is asked to assess need to be adjusted (e.g. only ask for additional work if it’s crucial to the reported work, not because it will be a “nice-to-have”)?
  • Should further incentives for reviewers be introduced to increase engagement (or a special acknowledgment from the editor)?

Author implications and adjustments

  • Does the current crisis warrant additional author extensions, or is there anticipation for submission changes/impacts?

Data implications

  • Will the current crisis impact decision turnaround time?
  • Will the current crisis impact data reporting or collection?

Content implications

  • Does the current crisis warrant soliciting new content that varies from the standard scope?
  • Does the crisis warrant expediting certain papers? If so, how will this be arranged?
  • Does the crisis warrant modifying the format of current manuscript types or adding new ones?
  • How will non-prioritized content be impacted?
  • Are submission increases/declines anticipated?
  • Should crisis-related content be made free? If so, consider how to collect and promote it in an appropriate way.
  • Should data sharing be made mandatory (or at least to be made available upon reasonable request)?
  • If there are disruptions to print, consider making online content free to print subscribers.

Promotions and marketing

  • Are all currently planned promotions appropriate? Can some be put on hold until later?
  • Be more sensitive/aware about how promotions are communicated (see above).

Vendor Operations Management

General operations

  • Establish a crisis management team (identified in advance)
    • Should represent various units within the business
    • Test/practice in advance
  • Staff bandwidth
    • Are there changes in workload that might require staff reductions or additional staffing, temporary staffing, or outsourcing? Consider cross-training in advance to ensure business continuity.
    • Plans for delegation of authority
  • Technology infrastructure (virtual, secure, offsite servers, and/or cloud-based back-up)
  • Emergency response procedures
  • Contingencies for access to work areas (e.g., is there an alternate workspace? Remote work only?)
  • Access to documentation
  • Resumption, recovery, and restoration procedures

Client communications

  • Include business continuity plan in client contracts
  • E-mail or phone calls to clients outlining reaction to current crisis with reminder of business continuity plan

Prepared July 2021 by Sabina Alam, Jeannine Botos, Kelly Hadsell, Anna Jester, Etta Kavanagh, and Jennifer Workman for the CSE Editorial Policy Committee. Approved by the CSE Board of Directors on February 25, 2022.