Manuscript Central is annoying

The IEEE Transactions on Information Theory recently transitioned to using Manuscript Central from the old Pareja system, so now all of the IEEE journals for which I review seem to be managed by the same external management system. As a reviewer/author, I have a lot of complaints (small and large) about Manuscript Central:

  • Why oh why do I need to disable my popup blocker for your site to work?
  • Why can login information not be shared across different IEEE publications? I have a separate account for each journal, with a separate password. Thank goodness I have LastPass, but even that program gets confused sometimes.
  • What is the deal with the mandatory subject classifications for papers? One of the “topics” I could pick was “IEEE Transactions on Information Theory.” Really? That’s a topic?
  • Why must papers for review be emblazoned with that stupid pale blue “For Peer Review Only” running diagonally across each page? This causes PDF annotations such as highlighting to barf, making paperless reviewing of papers significantly more annoying than it needs to be.

The worst part is that I am sure IEEE could implement a significantly cheaper and just-as-effective system itself, but now each Society is forking over money to Manuscript Central, which as far as I can tell, offers significantly more annoyances for authors and reviewers and is a shoddy product. Perhaps as an editor it’s significantly better (I imagine it is), but it seems like a bad deal overall.

Of course, now I sound curmudgeonly. Get off my lawn!

Do other people like MC? Or do you have other pet peeves?

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14 thoughts on “Manuscript Central is annoying

    • See, I figured that would be the case. But I can’t imagine that the lousiness of the interface is worth the money (MC doesn’t seem to have much incentive to make improvements). I found bepress has a nice system, but their LaTeX packages are a bit weird to those used to IEEEtran.

      I guess the weird part is the separation between the software managing the editorial process and actual publisher (i.e. IEEE).

  1. MC discourages PDF reviews. For example, PDF reviews retain in MC the file name created by the reviewer, rather than being renamed with anonymized useful names like IT-YYYY-NNNN-ReviewA. Forwarding the PDF reviews to the authors or to the other reviewers in a thank you note is easily messed up and generally a pain in the butt.

    • I’ve actually stopped doing PDF reviews and instead give a (more or less) .tex file which they can cut and paste into responses and so on. It seems much easier for the authors that way, in addition to the anonymity issues, but I can see your point. I seem to remember that I filed a few reviews as PDFs a while back and somehow the system didn’t mark them so the AE must have thought I didn’t do the review, so I ended up emailing the pdf to the AE who then forwarded it to the authors… what a mess!

      • Although, it is true that CCR does not have as complicated of a revision cycle as the typical journal. So HotCRmiss probably not sufficient as is. I bet it would be fairly straightforward to extend it, though.

  2. Hey, just came across this. Most of your annoyances (except the popup blocker) are all configured by IEEE. S1M is fully able to run without the “features” that you are mentioning.

    In short, IEEE configured it this way. Your info can be shared, IEEE chose not to. IEEE set up the classifications, and chose to make them mandatory, and IEEE chose to add a watermark to the PDF proofs.

    • I guess I should complain to IEEE — I still question the economic sense of using a third party for editorial management, given the expertise *within* IEEE, but the lack of integration across societies is just plain silly. Maybe I’ll make a petition.

  3. Pingback: A letter to EiCs about Manuscript Central « An Ergodic Walk

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