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American Society of Plant Biologists Announces New Peer Review Report Policy

New policy introduces a uniform process for the publishing of peer review reports

by American Society of Plant Biologists
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Plant Physiology and The Plant Cell, published by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), are introducing a new mechanism for publishing peer review reports on each journal’s website.

A version of peer review reports has been published with the supplemental material of original research articles in The Plant Cell for some time. However, for the first time the ASPB Editorial Office is introducing a uniform process for formatting and publishing these reports with Plant Physiology original research articles, as well.

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The new peer review reports will closely replicate all comments from editors and reviewers to the authors during the peer review process for each draft of the manuscript, as well as the authors’ responses. Barring any other exceptional circumstances, the reports will only redact the following information that may appear in the decision letters: 1) The names of specific associate or monitoring editors; 2) unpublished data submitted confidentially in response to reviewer comments (e.g., figures, tables; data not intended for the manuscript under review but only to support responses to reviewer comments) at the author’s request.

Peer review reports will continue to be published as part of supplemental material on an interim basis until completion of a new feature where they are posted via a link on the main page of approved articles on the journal websites.

The following is a synopsis of how this policy will affect key individual participants in the journals’ peer review process:

Authors

In keeping with a longstanding policy of The Plant Cell, authors will have the option to either opt in or out of publishing their peer review reports on the journal website. There will be a question during the submission process of the first draft of your manuscript that states the following:

“I agree that if my manuscript is accepted for publication, and contingent upon my review and approval, a report of all peer review comments from reviewers and editors, as well as author responses, pertaining to each draft of the manuscript from submission to acceptance, will be posted publicly on the (journal name) website.”

If an author selects no, the comments and responses the author received during peer review will stay confidential in the journal’s manuscript submission site, eJournalPress.

Reviewers

Reviewers should be aware upon accepting an invitation to review an original research article for either Plant Physiology or The Plant Cell that their comments, while remaining anonymous, may be publicly released, as received by the authors, as part of the article’s peer review report. Reviewers may not opt out of this policy if they accept an assignment to review a manuscript, and should continue to adhere to standard peer review practices while still subjecting manuscripts to rigorous analysis and critique.

Editors

Journal editors handling manuscripts during peer review should likewise be mindful that comments received by authors during peer review may transparently be made available later as part of a published peer review report, while still applying their usual scientific criteria in critiquing and issuing decisions on manuscripts. Exceptions for publishing comments as received by the authors are outlined above, but to reiterate, Plant Physiology and The Plant Cell will both redact the names of individual editors as part of the peer review report.

In posting peer review reports we hope to adhere to increasingly prevalent guidelines and practices for transparency in scientific publishing, and provide journal readers with full context for and understanding of our process of reviewing, editing, and publishing research.

- This press release was originally published on the American Society of Plant Biologists website