EMBO journal introduces transparent peer-review

Via press release, The EMBO Journal will be publishing online author and referee comments from this year (2009). “The EMBO Journal has been our flagship publication for 27 years, sharing knowledge broadly within the molecular life sciences community,” said Hermann Bujard, director of EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organisation). “We are excited by the editorial changes that will make publication of research findings more transparent, complete and visible.”

By making the evaluation of manuscripts visible to everyone, The EMBO Journal aims to encourage constructive referee and author argumentation. Younger scientists will gain valuable insight into how to publish their research findings as well as how to deal with criticism.

The EMBO Journal has an efficient and reasonable editorial process,” writes Executive Editor Pernille Rørth in an advanced online publication of the editorial in the first issue for 2009 ”">(EMBO J. 28 , published online 4 December 2008). “A transparent editorial process will help demystify decisions.”

Beginning with manuscripts submitted in 2009, a supplementary process file will be included with the online publication of papers. This file will show all dates relevant to manuscript processing and communications between the author, editors, referees and comments to the decision letter. Readers will learn about why referees find the paper interesting, any gaps they may have identified in the initial research findings, and how the gaps were resolved in revision. Referee identities will be anonymous and confidential comments between the referee and editors will remain so. Authors will have the option to decline publication of the editorial process when they submit manuscripts, but are encouraged to participate.

Instructions for authors are available here.


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    Dipankar Chatterjee said:

    It was interesting to read the Post and the associated details. However I do not think this system can be termed as a transparent system. It is customary for a reviewer (most of the time an eminent expert in the field that he or she is reviewing) to know their counterparts in the same or similar fields. As is human nature biasness (either positive or negative) will be there, which will itself affect the review process. Other factors that affect the review process are – Institution where the research was conducted, Lab which conducted the research and sometimes even country from which the research article is being submitted. I think the best procedure will be to assign a computer generated code to the manuscript instead of the author details, and after the review process is over, and if the manuscript is accepted for publication in the journal, the author names can be printed after proof-reading the manuscript. Also, once the manuscript is submitted for review, based of the context of research it can be sent to a suitable reviewer by the Editor/Editorial Board.

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