Peer Review Process
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 a double-blind peer review process, meaning that authors and reviewers remain anonymous for the review process. 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 Editorial 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:
- Content: Does the article fit within the scope of the journal? Is the submission original, relevant and rigorous? Is the author’s depth of understanding of the issues researched adequate? Are the sources and references adequate? Has the existing knowledge base been explored and built upon? Are the chosen methodologies appropriate and have they and the evidential base been appropriately used? Does the conclusion reflect the argument in the main body text and bring something new to the debate?
- Structure and argument: Does the abstract summarise the arguments in a succinct and accurate way? Is the manuscript logically structured and do the arguments flow coherently? Is there enough reference to methodology in the introduction and are the arguments fully evidenced and substantiated? Does the introduction signpost the arguments in the logical way and does the conclusion adequately summarise them?
- Figures/tables: Does the author’s use of tables, charts, figures or maps illustrate the arguments and support the evidential base? Is the quality of the formatting and presentation adequate?
- Formatting: Does the submitted file adhere to the general author guidelines listed for the journal? Are the citations and references formatted to house-style?
- Language: Is the text well written and jargon free? Please comment on the quality of English and need for grammatical improvement.
- Data availability: Has data used in the study been adequately described and made available? Is the data curated in a usable format? Is there a 'Data Availability' statement providing information on how to access the data?
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 author retains copyright to the preprint and developed works from it, and is permitted to submit to the journal.
- The author declares that a preprint is available within the cover letter presented during submission. This must include a link to the location of the preprint.
- The author acknowledges that having a preprint publicly available means that the journal cannot guarantee the anonymity of the author during the review process, even if they anonymise the submitted files (see review policy).
- Should the submission be published, the authors are expected to update the information associated with the preprint version to show that a final version has been published in the journal, including the DOI linking directly to the publication.
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, as defined in our authorship guidelines, which have been developed from the ICMJE definitions. All authors must have given permission to be listed on the submitted paper.
Competing Interests, Funding and Ethics
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).
Corrections and Retractions
In accordance with guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (where applicable), the Press handles different kinds of error. All articles have their proofs checked prior to publication by the author/editor, which should ensure that content errors are not present. Please contact your editorial manager if an article needs correcting.
Post-publication changes are not permitted to the publication, unless in exceptional circumstances. If an error is discovered in a published article then the publisher will assess whether a Correction paper or Retraction is required. Visit our Correction Policy page for more information.
Misconduct and Complaints
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, it must be immediately passed on to the publisher, who will follow guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) 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. Should this not be forthcoming or adequate, the author should raise the matter with the publisher, who will investigate the nature of the complaint and act as arbiter on whether the complaint should be upheld and investigated further. This will follow guidelines set out by COPE.
The journal does not tolerate abusive behaviour or correspondence towards its staff, academic editors, authors or reviewers. Any person engaged with the journal resorting to abusive behaviour 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.
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