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Manuscript transfer network

Journal of Cell Science (JCS), Journal of Cell Biology (JCB) and Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC) announced a new manuscript transfer option in 2019 that empowers authors whose manuscripts have been declined to seamlessly transfer their manuscripts and associated peer review reports between the journals.

JCS, JCB and MBoC developed the manuscript transfer option to alleviate the burden on authors who must submit to several journals in succession and on reviewers who may encounter the same manuscript from different journals, and to accelerate science.

When a manuscript submitted to one of the participating journals is declined, the journal editor may offer the authors the opportunity to transfer their manuscript and reviewer comments between journal manuscript submission systems. Authors are given the option to update their manuscript files prior to resubmission. This feature is aimed at limiting the time a paper spends in peer review and to provide quick, concise and informed editorial decisions.


What is it?

The Company of Biologists, Rockefeller University Press, and the American Society for Cell Biology, publishers of JCB, JCS, and MBoC, respectively, have harmonized their manuscript submission systems. Authors of manuscripts declined for publication can transfer their manuscript files and associated metadata to one of the other journals in just a few clicks, bypassing the administrative burden of manuscript submission. Reviewer reports will also be transferred for manuscripts that were peer reviewed at JCB, JCS, or MBoC, with the goal of reducing the collective burden on peer reviewers that comes from submission to multiple journals.

Which journals are in the network and where can I find links to their privacy policies?

Journal of Cell Science, The Company of Biologists, Cambridge, UK.

Journal of Cell Biology, The Rockefeller University Press, New York, NY, USA.

Molecular Biology of the Cell, American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), Bethesda, MD, USA.

How does it work?

If a manuscript is suitable for transfer, this will be explained in the decision letter and the submitting author will be presented with a link to approve transfer of the manuscript to one of the other journals.

JCS, JCB, and MBoC, have collectively deployed the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) approved Manuscript Exchange Common Approach (MECA) protocol to transfer manuscript files, associated metadata, and reviewer reports between JCS, JCB, and MBoC. Journals differ in the data they require at submission, so there may be a small amount of data to enter or a few boxes to check on the new journal site to complete the submission, but most of the work will be done automatically.

What manuscript data are transferred?

Submitted files: manuscript, figures and supplementary data

Article data: article title, abstract, keywords

Peer review: reviewer comments

What personal data are transferred?

Where authors approve transfer, the following personal data will be sent to the chosen journal in the USA.

Author personal data: name, ORCiD iD, institution address, email address (only where authors provide consent to transfer)

Reviewer personal data: name, institute, email address (only where reviewers provide consent to the disclosure of their identity to the journal Editors)

Are all declined manuscripts eligible for transfer?

No. The Editors of the journal where the manuscript is under consideration will make the decision on whether to offer transfer, referring to the stated aims and scope of JCS, JCB, and MBoC, as appropriate.

You are welcome to submit directly in the absence of an offer to transfer. See the JCS fast-track policy here, for submitting such manuscripts.

Will the Editors of JCS, JCB, and MBoC confer on manuscripts?

No, they will not. Manuscript transfer to JCS, JCB, or MBoC does not obligate that journal to peer review or publish the transferred manuscript.

When can I transfer my manuscript?

You can transfer your manuscript at any time after it has been declined as long as it is not under consideration by another journal.

What if I want to revise my manuscript before transfer?

Not a problem. You can upload a revised manuscript on the new journal site when you complete your submission. If you do, consider highlighting the changes in the revised manuscript.

Do I have to reformat my manuscript?

No. JCS, JCB, and MBoC all accept format-neutral submissions. However, if your paper is accepted for publication, you will need to reformat to the journal’s specifications to ready your manuscript for production.

Are reviewer identities shared between journals?

Yes, reviewer names, institute and email address will be passed to the journal Editors, but only with the reviewers’ prior consent as referred to above. Reviewers remain anonymous to the authors and to the other reviewers unless they have chosen to identify themselves to the author and sign their report.

What if I don’t want to have reviewer reports transferred?

Submit directly to JCS, JCB, or MBoC and start the peer review process afresh. It’s estimated that around 15 million hours of researcher time is consumed each year in submitting manuscripts, so we encourage you to transfer instead. However, we support your right to submit anew.

What other options do I have?

All the transfer options already offered by JCS, JCB, and MBoC continue to be available to you. This new transfer option does not replace any of those options.

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