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Reviewer guide

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Unbiased independent critical assessment is of vital importance in scholarly publishing, and BiO adheres to The Company of Biologists' editorial principles and to the guidelines on publishing objective and unbiased scientific information set by COPE (the Committee on Publication Ethics). For more information on the principles that are of relevance to reviewers (including confidentiality and competing interests), please visit our journal policies page. Information on our editorial process can be found here. Further details on different article types can be found here.

BiO expects reviewers to review papers in a respectful manner. Please take care to ensure that any statements are factually supported, and that opinions stated are genuinely held and well-justified. On rare occasions where the Editors of the journal are concerned that papers have not been reviewed according to these principles, we might contact the reviewer and request changes to the report before it is transmitted to the authors.

BiO operates single-blind peer review.

BiO encourages the involvement of postdocs and other early career scientists in the peer review process. We simply ask that: the name of the co-reviewer is reported to the Editor (a field is provided in the report form for this purpose); the same rules of confidentiality and conflict of interest be applied; there is a genuine mentoring process; and the senior invited reviewer takes final responsibility for the report delivered to the journal.

Reviewers wishing to identify themselves to the authors by signing their reviews are welcome to do so.

To make manuscript submission as easy as possible for authors, BiO has a format-free submission policy, meaning that authors are not required to adhere to journal formatting guidelines when they first submit a manuscript for peer review. We do encourage authors to format their manuscripts for ease of viewing by reviewers and editors by using double-line spacing and inserting line numbers but this is not a mandatory requirement. As an author, we are sure you will appreciate this policy; however, as a reviewer, if you have trouble viewing a specific manuscript, please contact the Editorial Office and we will ask the authors to provide a more user-friendly version.

BiO values its reviewers and is a partner of the reviewer recognition service hosted by Web of Science (previously Publons), allowing reviewers to receive formal recognition for their peer review contribution.

We are always glad to receive comments and suggestions from reviewers. Thank you for generously contributing to the reviewing process, and for your time and effort in sustaining BiO as a high-quality research journal.

Guidelines for reviewing Research Articles and Methods & Techniques papers

With your help, BiO aspires to promote a peer-review system that is timely, thorough, constructive and fair. It aims to provide rapid peer reviewed publication of scientifically sound observations and conclusions. Reviewers are asked to confirm that the experimental work is properly conducted and that the conclusions are adequately supported by the data. We do not require any assessment of the significance, relative importance or impact of a paper. However, the paper should clearly address a non-trivial scientific question.

To enable a rapid and straightforward decision on each manuscript, we ask reviewers to simply address the following criteria:

  1. The experimental research component is technically and ethically sound. The Materials & Methods, including statistical analysis, are appropriate to the investigation and have been correctly conducted and described such that they could be independently reproduced. The paper should clearly address a non-trivial scientific question. Experiments reporting only preliminary data or with insufficient sample sizes will not be published. Similarly, the work should adhere to all ethical standards for the conduct of research that involves animal or human subjects.
  2. The conclusions are each supported by the data. The conclusions drawn are a logical and realistic interpretation of the results obtained.
  3. The title and the summary of the manuscript are supported by the conclusions. There are no 'eye-catching' headline claims that mislead the reader in regard of the detailed content of the paper.
  4. The figures and tables are adequate. The reader can understand the content and purpose of all graphical and tabular elements, and these are appropriately referenced within the text.
  5. The language is clear and accessible. The reader can understand the aims, scope and outcomes of the research as written.

BiO asks reviewers of Methods & Techniques papers to assess whether the method is sound. It should, at minimum, describe the advance of an existing technique. Methods must be described in sufficient detail to allow others to replicate and verify it. Validation of the method must be included. If possible, application of the method to an area of research should be included, but this is not a requirement. All other standard reviewing guidelines that relate to Research Articles, including article length, supplementary material and statistical analysis, also apply to Methods & Techniques papers.

Because preprints are not peer reviewed, reviewers should not reference preprints as examples of lack of novelty when evaluating manuscripts. Authors may be encouraged to discuss relevant preprints, but these should not be taken into consideration when making a recommendation on a paper.


Focus on biodiversity: The Forest of Biologists

The Forest of Biologists logo

To acknowledge our reviewers, who help preserve the integrity of the scientific record, we are funding the restoration and preservation of ancient woodland within Great Knott Wood in the Lake District National Park, UK. Each time a peer reviewer completes the review process for one of our articles, we will dedicate a tree in the ancient woodland to them. Representations of these trees will be added to our virtual forest periodically. There will be no association with specific articles to ensure that peer reviewers retain their anonymity.

Read the Editorial to find out more about The Forest of Biologists.

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