After having written a manuscript and formatted it to the publishers specifications, are there any additional things you do before submitting it (or right after submitting it) that make the review process easier. For example, for journals that I know the approximate time it takes to review, I make a note in my diary to check on the manuscript around that time. I also print out a hard copy and move the digital files into my lab notebook. Are there other things that I should be doing?
Putting together also some advice from the previous answers, here is my suggested checklist:
- Run a spellchecker :)
- Prepare a cover letter. If the manuscript has a previous history (e.g., it is a modification of a rejected papers; overlaps partially with a conference proceeding), you should state it. Some may want to suggest possible referees in the cover letter; I find it ethically dubious, so I never do it. In case, you may want to suggest referees to avoid. (maybe we should have a separate question on this point).
- submit a preprint, either at your institute or on arXiv, or at least think about it. Check the terms of the journal you are submitting to (this is a great resource) to make sure you can; often the submission is the best moment to do it, since the journal can have no reasonable copyright claim on what happened before it.
- Even if you don't submit a preprint, make a backup copy of the .tex and .pdf files. If you use source control, tag the latest version as "submitted". This way it will be easier to recover that exact version when the referee report mentions "line 4 on page 2".
- Send a copy to your co-authors, for backup and self-archiving.
- Relax and celebrate.
You speak about applying the journal style in the manuscript; I suggest not to do it at this point. Referees won't care; it is really needed only after the manuscript is accepted, or if an over-zealous editor asks you to do it. You might spend lots of time without reason, resizing figures and line-breaking formulas that will be dropped after the referee comments.
It is of utmost importance that, immediately after the submission of the manuscript, you bake a cake and offer it to your co-workers. You might also want to invite close family and others who have indirectly suffered from your hard work. Invite all co-authors that are close enough to reasonably travel to your place and celebrate!
Picture from Wikimedia commons, user Scheinwerfermann.
Otherwise, you don't need to do anything. That's the nice thing about submission: from there on, everything will happen automatically. Reviews, proofs, etc.: everything that comes back comes with a deadline, which means you will do it. Until submission, you can postpone things indefinitely. After submission, you can't.
Send it for approval to all co-authors.
Maybe this sounds obvious, but there are so many examples of people breaking this rule in either small (“they read the penultimate version two days ago”) or very big way (there are many examples of people actually learning when the paper is published that they are a co-author), that I think it is good to state.
In addition to all the other excellent suggestions I would like to add something. When you submitted your paper you could invest some time in ordering your files/notes/scripts. Make sure they have a logical structure, enabling you to easily start working on the paper again when the reviews come back. Especially scripts that you use to process data and generate figures can be hard to understand if they are messy, e.g how did I generate figure 3. Ofcourse, it is much better to organize your files/notes/scripts during writing the paper. But if you have not been disciplined (busy, busy), this is a very good time to correct that mistake as everything is still fresh in your memory.
Relax for a bit.
Also, pretend you're a reviewer and ask yourself if there's a really obvious question to ask (control experiment, comparison with another method, etc.). If so, maybe you want to get started on it before the reviews come back, so the turnaround is faster then. But send it out first, then relax, and then get to work on the obvious experiment.