Biology Direct aims to provide a unique service to authors and readers of research articles, with a novel system of peer-review. Key peer-review aims are:
- 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.
- The Editors-in-Chief and Section Editors have assembled, for each subject area, a panel of potential reviewers who have agreed in advance to serve the journal and will form the Editorial Board.
- An author submitting a manuscript to the journal will consult the relevant subject panel and suggest appropriate Editorial Board members to peer-review their manuscript. The peer-review process will then be coordinated by BioMed Central staff, who will invite the reviewers on the author's behalf. In order to be eligible for publication in Biology Direct, a minimum of two Editorial Board members are required to agree to assume responsibility for reviewing the manuscript.
- The journal will insist that the initially requested reviewers are drawn from the Editorial Board, however Editorial Board members can nominate a reviewer in their place. Only reviewers directly nominated by an Editorial Board member or Section Editor are eligible for review.
- In essence, an article is rejected from the journal if at least two Editorial Board members do not agree to review it.
- Any reviewer-author pair (both directions) will be allowed to appear in the journal no more than four times a year.
- Any author will be allowed to publish no more than two articles per year with the same three reviewers.
- 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. The first step for a reviewer is to skim-read the article so as to allow the reviewer to form an overall opinion of the article; if they feel they cannot have their name associated with the publication of this article, they can decline to provide a formal review. But if they agree to review, the second step is for the reviewer to prepare comments for the author which, however critical, will appear alongside the final version of the article if it is published. 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".
- 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 2 weeks to deliver the review. If the reviewer does not deliver comments promptly, the author will be in a position to elect to publish the manuscript accompanied by the name of the reviewer but without comments.
- The authors will be in a position to withdraw the 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. For further information for both authors and reviewers, please click here.
Authors will be able to check the progress of their manuscript through the submission system.