Peer-review policies

Initial submission

Once submitted, your manuscript will be assigned to a member of our Editorial Board, who will read the paper and decide whether it is appropriate for the journal. Manuscripts that are within scope and seem, on initial assessment, to be technically sound and scientifically valid, will be sent to external reviewers. Your cover letter should include the names of Editorial Board Members who would be suitable to handle the submission.

Copies of any papers containing similar or related work under consideration or in press at other journals must be included with the submission.

Peer review

During peer review, reviewers will be able to access your manuscript securely using our online system, whilst maintaining referee anonymity.

At the submission stage, authors may indicate a limited number of scientists who should not review the paper. Excluded scientists must be identified by name. Authors may also suggest potential reviewers; these suggestions are often helpful, but they are not always followed.

By policy, referees are not identified to the authors, except at the request of the referee.

Decision after review

After considering the reviewer reports the Editorial Board Member will make one of the following decisions:

  • Accept outright
  • Request a minor revision, where authors revise their manuscript to address specific concerns
  • Request a major revision, where authors revise their manuscript to address significant concerns and perhaps undertake additional work
  • Reject outright

Revisions

In cases where the referees or Editorial Board Member has requested changes to the manuscript, you will be invited to prepare a revision. The decision letter will specify a deadline for submission of a revised manuscript. Once resubmitted, the manuscript may then be sent back to the original referees or to new referees, at the Editorial Board Member's discretion.

A revised manuscript should be submitted via the revision link provided in the decision letter, and not as a new manuscript. The revision should also be accompanied by a point-by-point response to referees explaining how the manuscript has been changed.

Final submission and acceptance

When all editorial issues are resolved, your paper will be formally accepted for publication. The received date stated on the paper will be the date on which the original submission passed our standard quality control checks, which are based on the journal's submission criteria. The accepted date stated on the paper will be the date on which the Editorial Board Member sent the acceptance letter.

After acceptance, authors are sent proofs of their manuscript but only changes to the title, author list or scientific errors will be permitted. All corrections must be approved by the publishing team. Scientific Reports reserves the right to make the final decision about matters of style and the size of figures.

Appeals

Even in cases where Scientific Reports does not invite resubmission of a manuscript, some authors may ask the Editorial Board to reconsider a rejection decision. These are considered appeals, which, by policy, must take second place to the normal workload. In practice, this means that decisions on appeals often take several weeks. Only one appeal is permitted for each manuscript, and appeals can only take place after peer review. Final decisions on appeals will be made by the Editorial Board Member handling the paper.

Decisions are reversed on appeal only if the relevant Editorial Board Member is convinced that the original decision was a serious mistake. Consideration of an appeal is merited if a referee made substantial errors of fact or showed evidence of bias, but only if a reversal of that referee's opinion would have changed the original decision. Similarly, disputes on factual issues need not be resolved unless they were critical to the outcome.

If an appeal merits further consideration, the Editorial Board Member may send the authors' response and the revised paper out for further peer review.