This section provides a brief general overview of the editorial process at the AACR journals. Details of which editors oversee and are responsible for making decisions on manuscripts at certain decision stages can vary depending on the journal and whether the journal staff includes an internal Executive Editor.
All submissions must be made electronically through the AACR SmartSubmit online system. Before submitting a manuscript, corresponding authors are expected to be familiar with all AACR journal editorial policies, the scope of the journal to which they are submitting, and the general characteristics of the article type they are submitting (see the “About the Journal” page of the relevant journal). The Authorship section in Editorial Policies details the responsibilities of the corresponding author. Additional details on how to submit a manuscript are available within SmartSubmit. Each journal's SmartSubmit homepage is linked below:
For initial submission, the AACR journals do not impose strict article size or formatting requirements. Rather, authors are encouraged to format their manuscript in a manner that makes it easy for peer reviewers to read and assess. Text must be clean with all manuscript sections and items present and legible, the author list must be complete and accurate, and a conflict-of-interest statement present. Authors are strongly encouraged to upload a cover letter and a single manuscript file in Word or PDF format containing the main manuscript text and all display items (e.g. figures, tables). Each figure should be presented in sequential order and adjacent to its legend, ideally where it is first called out in the text. Supplementary data should be uploaded separately (see acceptable File Types).
Authors submitting to most AACR journals have the option of suggesting an appropriate Editor to handle their submission. All authors may suggest individuals they feel are most qualified to review their manuscript. Suggested reviewers may be editorial board members of the journal or experts in topics relevant to the manuscript but who are not associated with the journal. Suggested reviewers will be considered and used at the editor’s discretion.
The methods text of all submitted original research articles is transmitted to SciScore for an automated check of important elements related to experimental rigor and reporting of the resources used. Authors are strongly encouraged to use the SciScore report to ensure that key information related to reproducibility is included in their manuscript whether they are revising it for submission to an AACR journal or another publisher. For more information, please see Improving Reproducibility.
For revised submissions, manuscripts are expected to adhere closely to all major formatting and length recommendations of the pertinent article type. Source files must be uploaded for the manuscript text and all display items (see acceptable File Types). Figures may not be presented in the same file as the main text. All revisions must be accompanied by a detailed, point-by-point response to all reviewer and editor comments and a listing of all changes made with the relevant page or line numbers indicated. Marked-text manuscripts may be uploaded as supplementary data to assist editors and reviewers in evaluating changes.
After the Editor handling the manuscript has determined that the authors have suitably addressed the pertinent concerns of the reviewers, he or she will Provisionally Accept the manuscript pending completion of all AACR requirements concerning legal forms, research reporting, and manuscript formatting. Final manuscript submissions must adhere to these requirements prior to formal acceptance. All authors will be asked to complete electronic copyright/license and conflict of interest forms. Each author must have an ORCID identifier and is required to link their author account in the submission system to their ORCID account before completing these forms. Failure to provide these forms will result in publication delays. The corresponding author may use the submission system to track the collection of forms from co-authors and chase any outstanding forms. Once all requirements for formal acceptance are satisfied, the manuscript will be formally accepted, and the corresponding author will receive a letter of acceptance email from the journal.
Following formal acceptance, the accepted author manuscript will be published “OnlineFirst” by the journal, usually within 48 hours, and indexed in PubMed and other databases. At this time the author manuscript will also be transmitted to PubMed Central (PMC) or Europe PMC, if the author requested this service and the work was funded by a participating funder (see Archiving Mandates for more information about this process). If the authors do not want the accepted author version published online before the article is copyedited and typeset, the corresponding author must contact the journal immediately upon receiving their formal acceptance letter.
Authors are advised in the provisional acceptance letter that the accepted author manuscript will be published online and that their revised submission must therefore be carefully checked for errors. Corrections will not be made to published accepted author manuscripts before that version is superseded by the copyedited typeset article containing requested corrections. This version of the article is considered the article of record.
All submissions undergo an initial editorial review by the journal editors. Submissions are judged on how well the manuscript and described research fit the editorial scope of the journal and its expectations of scientific excellence, importance, and impact on the wider cancer research community. Manuscripts that meet these initial editorial standards are sent for peer review. Manuscripts that do not meet these standards are returned to authors at this stage. The editor may suggest that the manuscript be transferred to a more appropriate AACR journal, or the author may choose to initiate the transfer process themselves (see Transfers section below).
The peer review process is managed by a handling editor who is responsible for assigning appropriate expert external reviewers based on the scientific content of the manuscript and the expertise needed to evaluate the technical rigor and importance of the work being reported. Reviewers should have no conflict of interest and multiple processes are in place to exclude those with identified conflicts that could compromise the objectivity of the peer review process.
When a researcher is invited to review another researcher’s manuscript, the document and its attendant supporting materials must be treated as confidential. If the reviewer would like assistance from another individual, they must first obtain permission from the journal editorial office. Reviewers are asked to provide an objective overall recommendation supported by detailed comments on the quality and originality of the science as well as the applicability and impact of the reported results and conclusions.
Reviewers should not upload a submitted manuscript or any part of it into a generative artificial intelligence (AI) tool as this may violate the authors’ confidentiality and proprietary rights and, where the paper contains personally identifiable information, may breach data privacy rights. This confidentiality requirement extends to the peer review report, as it may contain confidential information about the manuscript and/or the authors. For this reason, reviewers should not upload their peer review report into an externally hosted AI tool, even if it is just for the purpose of improving language and readability. The reviewer is responsible and accountable for the content of the review report.
The AACR journals operate a single-blind peer review process. Greater than 95% of peer reviewed manuscripts are reviewed by two or more independent reviewers and decisions are typically returned within 35 days of submission. Further information about decision times may be found here.
Upon receiving all the reviewer comments, the handling editor managing the peer review process assesses both the detailed comments and the overall recommendations of the individual reviewers. The editor then records his or her own comments on the manuscript and either renders a decision or recommends a decision to the Editor(s)-in-Chief. The decision to accept, revise, or reject the manuscript takes into account all the comments and recommendations of reviewers and editors. The editor responsible for the final decision has the discretion however to weight individual reviewer comments as appropriate based on the expertise of each reviewer in the relevant areas and the reviewers’ familiarity with the standards of the journal. Once made, the decision is communicated to the corresponding author.
The corresponding author of any Research Article declined for publication at an AACR journal has the option of easily transferring his or her manuscript files and supporting information, such as peer review comments and reviewer identities, to a second AACR journal of his or her choice for consideration of publication. All transfers are at the discretion of the author and are initiated using a link provided in the manuscript decision letter.
In some cases, an editor may determine that although a manuscript is not appropriate for his or her journal, it may be more suitable for another AACR journal. In these cases, the editor will reach out to the other journal and inquire if they are interested in reviewing the manuscript. If the editor of the other journal invites the transfer and agrees to send it out to review, the author will be informed of this offer in the decision letter from the journal declining publication. As described above, the author will be provided with a transfer link to initiate the transfer process.
Transfers provide an opportunity for authors to easily submit to another AACR journal without repeating the manual submission process. When the manuscript has already undergone peer review, transfer can also substantially speed up the publication process by making use of the prior reviewers and their evaluations of the manuscript. If an author accepts the offer to transfer their manuscript, the editor at the receiving journal will make an independent determination as to the suitability of the manuscript for their journal. The editor may use the original reviewers or could decide to add new reviewers if this is determined to be necessary.
Authors are given the choice of either transferring the manuscript as-is with the option of uploading an explanatory letter to the new journal, or they may choose to revise the manuscript as they desire prior to formally submitting it at the new journal. Further details about the transfer process can be found at AACR Manuscript Transfer Service.
Manuscripts that have been declined for publication will be reconsidered only at the discretion of the editor(s). Authors who wish to request reconsideration of a previously rejected manuscript must do so in writing by sending correspondence that includes the manuscript ID number to the journal editorial office. Requests for reconsideration sent to a location other than the journal editorial office will not receive a reply. Please be advised that, due to keen competition for journal space, only those manuscripts that have been judged to be of the highest priority can be accepted for publication. Authors should explain in detail the reasons why they believe the manuscript should be reconsidered. If it is determined that it should be reconsidered, the author may be asked to submit it as a new manuscript. It will receive a new identification number and submission date and then undergo review as a new submission.