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Editorial Process

The following information is meant to provide authors with MBE’s editorial processing of manuscripts following their submission online.

What does MBE publish?
Who makes decisions on what to publish?
What happens when a new manuscript is submitted?
What does the in-depth review involve?
How to interpret Decision Letters?
What is fast track?
How to appeal an editorial decision?
Cover Art for MBE?
Ethical Standards

What does MBE publish?


MBE publishes research at the interface of molecular and evolutionary biology. Editors are interested in contributions about molecular evolutionary patterns, processes, and predictions at all levels of taxonomic, functional, genomic, and phenotypic organization. We also welcome contributions that present new and improved methods, resources, and theories critical for advancing molecular evolutionary research. Importantly, MBE does not publish manuscripts containing largely descriptive work, confirmatory research, and discoveries with a limited scope or impact.

Who makes decisions on what to publish?


All publication decisions are made by the Board of Editors (BoE), which consists of more than 60 editors (see list here). The Editor-in-Chief (EiC) oversees all editorial processing and sets the direction of the journal. Associate editors (AEs) solicit external peer-reviews of manuscripts and make an initial recommendation of the publication priority for each manuscript. The Senior Editors (SEs) assist the EiC in making the final decisions in collaboration with the AEs. Every SE assists the EiC in handling and deciding on a broad range of contributions. MBE does not have disciplinary sections and, thus, no section editors, because it not possible to cover the breadth of molecular evolutionary research with a few uniformly accepted labels. Instead, all the MBE editors’ primary focus is on publishing papers offering significant implications for the field. For this reason, the BoE will evolve frequently in order for MBE to embrace new and emerging trends quickly, while maintaining strength in traditional areas that have made MBE the most respected journal in the field.

What happens when a new manuscript is submitted?


Once a manuscript is successfully submitted online, it is subjected to an initial review by members of the Board of Editors. The purpose is to identify manuscripts that will likely receive high priority based on our initial assessment of the novelty, impact, and broad significance needed to publish in MBE. In this process, the author-provided answers to a standard set of questions play a critical role. These questions enable authors to specifically list significant discoveries, methodological/theoretical advances, and tools/resources reported in the manuscript. In addition, authors indicate how the work presented will have broader impact on science or on the community. We encourage authors to devote special efforts in answering these questions.

A substantial proportion of manuscripts do not pass the Initial Review by the BoE, which is communicated to authors in less than one week, but usually much sooner. This decision may not reflect negatively on the scientific and technical soundness of the work presented in the manuscript. Rather, the intention is to enable authors to send manuscripts elsewhere without delay. The EiC encourages editors to use stringent criteria and only select manuscripts for in-depth review that are exciting, have a broad scope, and have a potential for high impact.

Average Manuscript Life Cycle at MBE
Initial Review and Decision (<1 week)
In-depth Review (~3 weeks)
Editors’ Decision (~1 week)
Online Publication (~1 week)
Appears in Print (next issue)
Total time to decision (< 4 weeks)

What does the in-depth review involve?


Each manuscript selected for in-depth review is sent to at least two external reviewers with the ability to fairly assess the technical merits of the paper. These peer reviewers provide a ranking (Low to Very High) for the manuscript for one or more of the following criteria: significance of discoveries reported, methodological/theoretical advances reported, impact of the tools/resources reported, and the broader impact of this work on science or community. These criteria resemble the questions for which the authors have provided answers during the initial submission process. In addition, peer reviewers provide written comments outlining the strengths and weaknesses of the work. MBE editors use this information and their own expertise to arrive at the final publication priority for each manuscript. We are committed to publishing all manuscripts receiving the high or top priority recommendation, while those receiving medium priority will be considered for publication on a case-by-case basis.

How to interpret Decision Letters?


Once the peer review and editorial process is completed, the author will receive one of the following notifications. (a) The manuscript is accepted for publication, (b) the manuscript is deemed suitable for publication pending a required revision, (c) the manuscript requires a substantial revision before it can be considered further, or (d) the manuscript is not recommended for further consideration, i.e., rejected. Authors receiving letters requesting revision (items b and c) must revise their manuscript to satisfy all editors' and reviewers’ concerns. Editors may choose to send the manuscript back to the original reviewers, and sometimes to additional reviewers, in order to make a final decision. Manuscripts requiring more than one substantial revision are routinely rejected. For rejected manuscripts, editors may occasionally suggest that the authors resubmit their manuscript after improving it. In this case, the revised manuscript must be submitted as a new manuscript online; they must indicate previous manuscript number and provide response to editorial and reviewer comments, along with a statement that they have been advised to resubmit the manuscript in the decision letter.

What is fast track?


The Editor-in-Chief will select manuscripts receiving the highest publication priority designation during the review process. Upon acceptance (as with all MBE manuscripts), these contributions will be published online within one week and in the print edition of MBE in the next scheduled issue. This policy reflects MBE’s intention to quickly print all manuscripts judged to be the most impactful during the peer review process.

How to appeal an editorial decision?


Authors appealing a reject decision must submit a detailed rebuttal (no revised manuscripts please) to the editors' and reviewers' comments. It should be sent to the Editor-in-Chief by e-mail. This rebuttal should clearly explain how authors can update the manuscript to handle the concerns raised. Using the authors’ rebuttal and the original information in the MBE systems, the Board of Editors will make a decision on whether or not to allow a resubmission. This decision will generally take 1-4 weeks. If the authors are allowed to resubmit the manuscript, then it must be submitted as a new manuscript online. It will be subjected to initial review, which is followed by the reviewers' in-depth review for a subset of all manuscripts submitted. An author cannot appeal an editorial decision when the manuscript is rejected without an in-depth review.

Cover Art for MBE?


MBE’s front cover will have a new look monthly and will highlight different art from selected contributions. The final acceptance letter invites authors to provide cover-worthy art.

Ethical Standards


Manuscripts are considered for publication in MBE on the understanding that authors have complied with all ethical and privacy guidelines and/or legislation covering the work being reported. Manuscripts comprising a part or parts that have previously been published or are under consideration for publication elsewhere should not be submitted to MBE.


Updated on 14th January 2013