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On November 14th, 2019, we made an important upgrade to the way emails originating from our submission management system for journals (OJS) are sent. This change will result in all emails having two From addresses: an envelope sender, and a Reply-to address.
- The envelope sender will now, in all cases, be firstname.lastname@example.org. This mailbox is un-monitored and (as its name suggests) will not accept replies.
- The Reply-to address will remain the address from which emails have always come.
- For system-generated emails, this is typically the address of the journal's Principal Contact (defined under Configure Journal > 5-Step Journal Setup > Step 1.2), or the address of the Editor who initiated the task that is triggering the system-generated email (e.g. a Review Request Reminder message).
- For emails initiated within the system by a particular user (e.g. a direct message to an Author or Reviewer), the Reply-to address will be the address of the user who initiates the message.
When recipients view a message in their email client, they will now see the sender's name followed by "(via eScholarship Publishing), and the sender details (when expanded) will show both the envelope sender and Reply-to address. If the recipient chooses to reply to the message, the reply will automatically go to the Reply-to address, not the eschol-no-reply envelope address. This means that you should not notice any significant change to the way you communicate with your journal community — except that messages generated and sent by the submission management system should now much more reliably reach their intended recipient, rather than being flagged as junk mail or bounced by mail servers.
Why did we make this change?
Like many other legacy platforms, the OJS 2.x platform that drives eScholarship's submission management system for journals, utilized a now outdated method of sending emails called "spoofing." Spoofing an email means sending the email from an address that doesn't match the server address from which the email originated. For example: If an editor sent a message to a reviewer from within the system, that email would previously have come from a single From address: the editor's (e.g. email@example.com). But because the message originated from our servers (escholarship.org) recipients' mail clients would notice the inconsistency between the two domains, and flag the mail as coming from a "spoofed" or faked email address. While this was once a routine practice, over time spoofing email addresses became highly associated with spam email messages, and email providers began routing any messages from a spoofed address to recipients' spam or junk folders.
More recently, some email providers have taken the more punitive step of bouncing any email sent from a spoofed email address. Bouncing means that the email never makes it to the intended recipient's inbox — not even their junk or spam folders. It is essentially returned to sender.
Our new practice of utilizing a no-reply envelope sender and a Reply-to address is more consistent with modern email standards, and should result in your communications being delivered as expected.
Is there anything Editors and Journal Managers need to do?
- Firstly, be aware of the above changes so that you are prepared to answer any questions you may receive from fellow editors, reviewers or authors.
- Consider whether journal staff, reviewers or authors who may have seemed unresponsive to email communications in the past may simply have not received messages, or did not realize that messages may have ended up in their junk / spam folders. You may wish to reach out to these users again to ensure they are informed of any outstanding tasks or deadlines.
- Encourage your journal users to add firstname.lastname@example.org to their safe sender's list or address book. This additional step will help ensure that emails are delivered to recipients' inboxes.
- Double-check your journal's submission management settings by going to Configure Journal -> 5-Step Journal Setup. In particular, ensure that the journal's Principal Contact information (Step 1.2) is up-to-date, and that a Bounce Address (Step 1.4) has been specified. (The Bounce Address will receive notices if any messages sent are undeliverable).
- Review the tips in our Help Desk article "Information for New Journal Managers and Editors" to make sure you're other journal settings are current.
In early 2020, we will begin pilot demonstrations of our next-generation submission management system for journals, which will not only continue to improve the way messaging is handled, but will deliver on numerous longstanding feature requests from eScholarship journal editors, reviewers and authors. Be on the lookout for emails inviting you to attend a demonstration and provide feedback in the near future!