How it works

Biology Direct operates a unique model of author-driven and fully transparent peer review:

  • Submitting an article: Submitting is made easy with our online submissions system and our in-house staff carry out basic technical checks to ensure Biology Direct’s editorial policies are adhered to.

  • Authors pick the reviewers: Biology Direct has an expert Editorial Board, after consulting the relevant subject area authors select suitable referees to review their manuscripts. Our staff then invite the reviewers on the author's behalf and coordinate the peer-review process.

  • Open Peer Review: In order to be eligible for publication, typically three Editorial Board Members must return reviewer reports for a manuscript: we leave it up to our authors to decide whether to revise or publish directly. 

  • Publication: The names of our reviewers are included alongside their reports within all articles published in Biology Direct, together with the author's responses.

If you are interested in submitting to the journal or have been invited to review an article, the guides below provide further information for both authors and reviewers.

Information for Authors

Biology Direct operates a model of author-driven and fully transparent peer review. This guide for authors contains information on our peer-review process.

If you intend to submit a manuscript to the journal please also familiarize yourself with our submission guidelines and policy information.

At a glance

  • Scope: Biology Direct considers articles that lie within 8 key journal sections, please ensure that your article is broadly within this scope. You will be required to indicate the most relevant section when submitting online.
  • Technical check: Before your manuscript is sent for review our in-house staff will carry out basic technical checks to ensure Biology Direct’s editorial policies are adhered to. Please therefore refer to our submission guidelines in advance of submitting to the journal.
  • Selecting reviewers: After consulting the subject area/s most relevant to your submission please identify eight members of our Editorial Board who you expect to be qualified to review your work (who should not be recent co-authors or close colleagues). Your reviewer suggestions will be required when submitting online. Note that Editorial Board members and Section Editors can nominate an alternative reviewer in their place.

Peer review

Stage 1: Reviewer endorsement

  • To be eligible for publication in Biology Direct usually three Editorial Board members must assume responsibility for each published article*; either by providing a review directly, or soliciting a review from a suitable colleague of their choice.
  • The peer-review process will be coordinated by BioMed Central staff and you will be notified once the required number of reviews have been received and provided with the reviewers' reports, along with instructions regarding how to proceed.

* Only two Editorial Board members are required to review Discovery note articles. Reviewers should be selected from the Editorial Board section specifically assembled for Discovery notes.

Stage 2: Author’s decision 

If you receive the appropriate number of reviews for your manuscript you will be required to indicate whether you intend to either:

  1. Revise your manuscript in light of the reviewer comments (strongly encouraged)
  2. Proceed to publication without responding to the reviewer comments
  3. Withdraw your manuscript

Authors may choose to publish manuscripts even when the review(s) are negative, however please note that the reviewers' comments will still be published alongside the article.

1. Revising your manuscript and responding to reviewer comments

  • As part of the novel scheme of peer review operated by Biology Direct, authors are invited to provide ‘public’ responses to the reviewers' comments, as well as revising their manuscript in light of the reviews.
  • Please include your responses alongside the reviewer comments within the revised manuscript (please see instructions for including the reviewers' comments below).
  • Upon re-submission, the revised manuscript and author responses will be sent back to the reviewers for any final remarks and/or modifications to the reviews prior to publication.

2. Proceeding to publication without responding to the reviewer comments

  • To proceed in this way authors should re-submit the manuscript, now including the reviewer reports, by logging into the and submitting a revised manuscript (please see instructions for including the reviewers' comments below).
  • You should indicate in your covering letter that you wish to proceed to publication at this point.

3. Withdrawing your submission

  • Please inform the our Editorial Team if you wish to withdraw from the peer-review process.
  • In the event that you decide to pursue publication elsewhere, you must withdraw the manuscript from Biology Direct first, so as to avoid having it under consideration at two journals simultaneously.

Pre-publication history

Open and transparent peer review is at the core of Biology Direct’s ethos and as such all published articles include a ‘Reviewers comments’ section presenting both reviewer comments and author responses.

Our authors are responsible for making the peer review history as comprehensible as possible when submitting the final version of their article in advance of publication.

When formatting your article please therefore:

Insert a "Reviewers" section as a new paragraph at the end of the abstract:

  • Reviewers: This article was reviewed by XX, YY and ZZ. (NB please state if a reviewer was nominated by an Editorial Board member thus: XX (nominated by AA)).

Insert an "Open peer review" section on a new page after the abstract, just before the Introduction/Background (this will aid navigation in the published version of your article):

  • Open peer review: Reviewed by XX, YY and ZZ. (NB please state if a reviewer was nominated by an Editorial Board member thus: XX (nominated by AA)). For the full reviews, please go to the Reviewers' comments section.

Insert the reviewers' comments, together with each reviewer's name, under the heading "Reviewers' comments" at the end of your manuscript (before the references section) in the following style:

  • Reviewers' comments
    Reviewer's report 1
    Name, Affiliation (nominated by Name, Affiliation if applicable)
    Reviewer comments:

[Note: If the reviewer has not returned their comments, please state "This reviewer provided no comments for publication."]

If you want to add your replies to any reviewer comment, please insert them preceded by Author's response:.

Information for Reviewers

Biology Direct operates a model of author-driven and fully transparent peer review. This guide for reviewers contains information on our peer-review process.

If you have been invited to review for the journal and have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact the Biology Direct Editorial Team.

At a glance

  • Open peer-review: Reviewer comments, accompanied by reviewer names, are reproduced alongside each article published in Biology Direct. Reviews may be highly critical of submissions, or even outright negative, however this in itself does not necessarily preclude publication should the authors decide to proceed*.
  • Author-driven process: Authors submitting to Biology Direct are solely responsible for the content of their article. Although our in-house staff facilitate the peer-review process, there are no handling editors deciding whether to reject or accept articles. Instead, the journal aims to publish all manuscripts that have attracted sufficient interest of Editorial Board members to result in 3 reviews: when this requirement is met the decision to revise, publish or withdraw a manuscript rests with the author.
  • Reviewer selection: Upon submission authors are responsible for identifying members of Biology Direct’s Editorial Board they expect to be qualified to review their manuscript. Meaning that if you have been invited to review for the journal, it is at the authors request. We ask that authors and reviewers confirm that no conflicts of interest exist between them.

* Reviewers also have the option to recommend rejection of manuscripts that have no scientific substance, or do not meet the standards of a scientific work.

Peer review

Reviewers are asked to undertake a two-stage review, because once they agree formally to review an article they are essentially recommending eventual acceptance and publication.

Stage 1: Invitation to review

  • Upon invitation reviewers are asked to read submissions in full, so as to form an overall opinion of the article and determine whether or not they are able to provide a formal review: meaning their name would be associated with the article, if published.
  • If unable to review a submission themselves, however deeming a manuscript eligible for publication, reviewers are encouraged to nominate one or more colleagues who we can contact to review the submission. The reviewer's name will appear next to that of their nominated colleague.

We ask that our reviewers initially indicate whether or not they are able to review a manuscript within 72 hours of invitation.

Stage 2: Reviewer’s report

  • If a reviewer agrees to provide a formal review the next stage is to provide comments for the author. Reviewers can also choose to publish no comments with the manuscript in which case it will be indicated, under the reviewer's name, that "This reviewer made no comments for publication".

Reviewers are asked to answer specific questions relating to the submission via our online report form. In brief, we ask reviewers to provide:

A recommendation status, choosing either to:

  1. Endorse publication: By endorsing publication reviewers agree that their report, however critical, can appear alongside the final version of the article (if published). Although the decision to revise, publish or withdraw rests with the author, making this decision is conditional on 2-3 reviewers ‘endorsing’ publication.
  2. Reject as unsound science: Reviewers also have the option to recommend rejection of manuscripts that have no scientific substance, or do not meet the standards of a scientific work. In such cases our Section Editors will make the final decision, in consultation with the Editors-in -Chief when deemed necessary.

A reviewers report: Further instruction regarding how to complete a reviewer’s report is given via our online report form. Reviewers are prompted to organize their report into the following sections:

  1. Reviewer summary: Here, reviewers should provide a brief overview of their review, stating plainly their opinion of the manuscript’s overall validity, significance and originality.
  2. Reviewer recommendations: Reports should be as constructive as possible, and if necessary, recommend specific improvements so that the authors have the opportunity to overcome any serious deficiencies identified. Comments should be divided into major and minor recommendations.
  3. Minor issues: We ask reviewers to use this section to detail any minor comments for the authors attention (spelling, typographical errors etc.). Once addressed the authors should remove these comments from the review.
  4. Reviewer confidential comments to Editor: Reviewers also have an opportunity to make confidential comments that relate to ethical or policy issues. These comments will not be included in the report passed to the authors.

We ask reviewers to return their report within 14 days of agreeing to review.

Next steps

On the condition that authors receive 2-3 reviews for their manuscript they will be eligible to proceed in one of the three ways:

  1. Revise their manuscript and respond to the reviewer comments (strongly encouraged): Each peer reviewer will subsequently be sent the revised manuscript, alongside the author’s responses, and will be given the opportunity to make a second round of comments.
  2. Proceed to publication without responding to the reviewer comments: Authors are entitled to publish without revising their manuscript. However please note that all reviewers’ reports will be published within the article and therefore any concerns/recommendations will be clear to readers.
  3. Withdraw: On occasion authors may elect to withdraw from submission, rather than revise their manuscript or publish without responding to reviewer comments.

Revisions

We strongly encourage authors to address reviewer recommendations/comments by revising their manuscript (when appropriate) and adding author responses. Once a manuscript has been revised reviewers are asked to either:

  1. Confirm they are satisfied that their original comments have been addressed: In such cases reviewers make no further recommendations in advance of publication.
  2. Make additional recommendations/comments in advance of publication: Although encouraged, authors are not required to respond to ‘second round’ comments in advance of publication. All reviewer comments will still be published within the article and made clear to readers however.

We ask reviewers to return complete this stage of the review process within 7 days.

Our aims

  • To remove the journal's role in reviewer selection, making the author responsible for suggesting suitable reviewers from the journal's Editorial Board.
  • To make the process of peer review open, rather than anonymous, thus eliminating the principal sources of abuse in the refereeing process.
  • By making the reviewers' reports public, to increase the responsibility of the referees and to provide readers with pointers as to the content and value of a publication.

These aims are put into practice as follows:

  1. The Editors-in-Chief and Section Editors have assembled, for each subject area, a panel of expert referees to form the journal’s Editorial Board.
  2. When submitting, authors are asked to consult the relevant subject panel and suggest appropriate Editorial Board members to peer-review their manuscript. The peer review process is then coordinated by BioMed Central staff, who will invite the reviewers on the author's behalf.
  3. In order to be eligible for publication in Biology Direct, typically three Editorial Board members are required to agree to assume responsibility for reviewing a manuscript.
  4. The journal insists that the initially requested reviewers are drawn from our Editorial Board, however Editorial Board members can subsequently nominate a reviewer in their place. Only reviewers directly nominated by an Editorial Board member or Section Editor are eligible to review.
  5. In essence, a manuscript is rejected from the journal if at least two Editorial Board members do not agree to review it.
  6. Once an Editorial Board member agrees to formally review an article they are essentially recommending eventual acceptance and publication*.
  7. Our reviewers are asked to prepare ‘public’ comments for the authors, that will appear alongside the final version of the article when it is published (however critical). The reviewer can also choose to publish no comments with the manuscript in which case it will be indicated, under the reviewer's name, that "This reviewer made no comments for publication".
  8. There will be a fairly tight time frame for the review process: if an Editorial Board member does not respond to a request for review within 72 hours, this will be considered to be a 'decline to review' and another reviewer will be sought. However, once an Editorial Board member agrees to review a manuscript, s/he will have 14 days to deliver the review.
  9. The authors will be in a position to revise or withdraw their manuscript if they do not wish to see it published alongside the reviews that have been received. The same article may not then be submitted through other Editorial Board members.

* As a safeguard against pseudoscience as well as manuscripts that have no significant scientific substance, an Editorial Board member reviewing a manuscript will have the option, in addition to writing a negative review, to alert the Section Editors that, in his/her opinion, a particular manuscript is not a legitimate scientific work and therefore should not be published in any form. The Section Editors will make the final decision in such cases, in consultation with the Editors-in-Chief when deemed necessary.

Advertisement