Peer Review Process | Reviewer Guidelines | Prior Publication | Preprint Policy | ORCID | Data and Reproducibility | Authorship | Competing Interests, Funding and Ethics | Corrections and Retractions | Misconduct and Complaints | Privacy Statement
All submissions are initially assessed by an Editor, who decides whether or not the article is suitable for peer review. Submissions considered suitable for peer review are assigned to two or more subject experts, who assess the article for clarity, validity, and sound methodology. If suitable experts external to the journal cannot be found then members of the Editorial Board may be asked to complete a review task.
Authors may be invited to recommend or ask for the exclusion of specific individuals from the peer review process. The journal does not guarantee to use these suggestions. All reviewers must be independent from the submission and will be asked to declare all competing interests.
The journal operates an anonymous peer review process, meaning that the identities of the authors are concealed from the reviewers, and vice versa, throughout the review process. To facilitate this process, authors should make every effort to ensure that the manuscript contains no clues to the authors' identity. Follow the specific guidelines under Manuscript Preparation.
The review period is expected to take around six to eight weeks, although this can vary depending on reviewer availability. Reviewers are asked to provide formative feedback, even if an article is not deemed suitable for publication in the journal.
Based on the reviewer reports the editor will make a recommendation for rejection, minor or major revisions, or acceptance. Overall editorial responsibility rests with the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, who is supported by an expert, international Advisory Board.
Members of the editorial team/board are permitted to submit their own papers to the journal. In cases where an author is associated with the journal, they will be removed from all editorial tasks for that paper and another member of the team will be assigned responsibility for overseeing peer review. A competing interest must also be declared within the submission and any resulting publication.
Reviewers are asked to provide comment on the below topics and guidelines:
The journal is happy to accept submissions of papers that have been loaded onto preprint servers or personal websites, have been presented at conferences, or other informal communication channels. These formats will not be deemed prior publication. The journal accepts papers that have been published within formal conference proceedings, provided that the paper provides substantially more data, analysis and/or discussion than the original conference paper. If the paper was presented but not formally published, then more overlap is permitted. The accepted manuscript may also be uploaded to an open platform, under a CC BY licence. Authors must retain copyright to such postings.
Authors are encouraged to link any prior posting of their paper to the final published version within the journal if it is editorially accepted and published.
The journal allows authors to deposit draft versions of their paper into a suitable preprint server, on condition that the author agrees to the below:
The journal strongly recommends that all authors submitting a paper register an account with Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier (ORCID). Registration provides a unique and persistent digital identifier for the account that enables accurate attribution and improves the discoverability of published papers, ensuring that the correct author receives the correct credit for their work. As the ORCID remains the same throughout the lifetime of the account, changes of name, affiliation, or research area do not effect the discoverability of an author's past work and aid correspondence with colleagues.
The journal encourages all corresponding authors to include an ORCID within their submitting author data whilst co-authors are recommended to include one. ORCID numbers should be added to the author data upon submission and will be published alongside the submitted paper, should it be accepted.
The journal strongly encourages authors to make all data associated with their submission openly available, according to the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable). Data should be cited and referenced within the manuscript and should be linked to from a Data Accessibility Statement, which must describe how the data underlying the findings of the article can be accessed and reused. If data is not being made available with the journal publication (e.g. legal constraints) then a statement from the author should be provided within the submission to explain why. Data obtained from other sources must be appropriately credited. All data should be curated in a format that allows easy understanding and analysis (e.g. sensible column headers, descriptions in a readme text file). This help will ensure its reuse potential.
As the traditional Materials and Methods section often includes insufficient detail for readers to wholly assess the research process, the journal encourages authors to publish detailed descriptions of their structured methods in open, online platforms such as protocols.io. By providing a step-by-step description of the methods used in the study, the chance of reproducibility and usability increases, whilst also allowing authors to build on their own works and gain additional credit and citations.
If research includes the use of software code, statistical analysis or algorithms then we also recommend that authors upload the code into Code Ocean, where it will be hosted on an open, cloud-based computational reproducibility platform, providing researchers and developers with an easy way to share, validate and discover code published in academic journals.
All listed authors must qualify as such, in agreement with the ICMJE definitions. All authors must have given permission to be listed on the submitted paper.
To ensure transparency, all authors, reviewers and editors are required to declare any interests that could compromise, conflict or influence the validity of the publication. Competing interests guidelines can be viewed here.
In addition, authors are required to specify funding sources and detail requirements for ethical research in the submitted manuscript, ensuring that ethical approval and consent statements are detailed within the manuscript (see Author Guidelines).
For a variety of reasons, some published content may require correction after publication. Such reasons can range from small errors to more serious issues concerning ethics and copyright. The journal handles errors in accordance with guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), where applicable.
Corrections should be addressed in a timely and efficient way, and are the responsibility of authors and editors. To minimize corrections, all articles have their proofs checked prior to publication by the author and editor, which should ensure that content errors are not present. Please contact the Editor-in-Chief if an article needs correcting.
If an error is discovered in a published article then the Editor-in-Chief will assess whether a correction or retraction is required. For minor corrections, the journal will post a correction to the article on the article landing page as well as the article cover page with an explanation of the correction so that readers see the correction with the original work. The journal reserves the right to retract or remove any published works if the editor(s) or Editorial Board find any instances of scientific misconduct, plagiarism, or unethical behavior.
Allegations of misconduct will be taken with utmost seriousness, regardless of whether those involved are internal or external to the journal, or whether the submission in question is pre- or post-publication. If an allegation of misconduct is made to the journal, guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) will be followed on how to address the nature of the problem. Should the matter involve allegations against a member of the journal or publishing team, an independent and objective individual(s) may be sought to lead the investigation. Where misconduct is proven or strongly suspected, the journal has an obligation to report the issue to the author's institution, who may conduct their own investigation. This applies to both research misconduct (e.g. completing research without ethical approval and consent, fabricating or falsifying data etc) and publication misconduct (e.g. manipulating the peer review process, plagiarism, etc.). Should an investigation conclude that misconduct or misinformation has occurred then the author, along with their institution will be notified. Should the publication record need to be corrected, the journal's correction policy will be followed.
Should an author wish to lodge a complaint against an editorial decision or the editorial process in general they should first approach the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, explaining their complaint and ask for a reasoned response. The journal will follow guidelines set out by COPE.
The journal does not tolerate abusive behavior or correspondence towards its staff, academic editors, authors or reviewers. Any person engaged with the journal resorting to abusive behavior or correspondence will have their contribution immediately withdrawn and future engagement with the journal will be at the discretion of the Editor and/or publisher.