Editorial Process

General information

Communications Earth & Environment is an open access journal from Nature Portfolio publishing high-quality research, reviews and commentary in all areas of the Earth, environmental and planetary sciences. Research papers published by the journal represent important advances bringing new insight to a specialized area of Earth, environmental or planetary science research.

Editorial decisions at Communications Earth & Environment may be made either by in-house editors or Editorial Board Members. Authors may request that a specific editor be considered for handling the review process of their paper. However, the assignment of manuscripts to editors is at the discretion of the chief editor. All manuscripts received with reviewer comments from another Nature Portfolio journal via the manuscript transfer service will be handled only by our in-house editors.

Peer Review Terminology

Communications Earth & Environment and Springer Nature are participating in a pilot of NISO/STM's Working Group on Peer Review Terminology.

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) and STM, the International Association of Scientific, Technology and Medical Publishers have recognized a need to identify and standardize definitions and terminology in peer review practices in order to help align nomenclature as more publishers use open peer review models.

A peer review terminology that is used across publishers will help make the peer review process for articles and journals more transparent, and will enable the community to better assess and compare peer review practices between different journals.

The following summary describes the peer review process for this journal:

Identity transparency: Single anonymized or Double anonymized by author choice

Reviewer interacts with: Editor

Reviewer information published:

  • Review reports published (author opt-in for initial submissions before 23 January 2023)
  • Reviewer identities reviewer opt in
  • Editor identities

The full terminology is detailed here.

We would welcome feedback on the Peer Review Terminology Pilot. Please can you take the time to complete this short survey.


Initial submission

Manuscripts should be submitted via the online submission system. The corresponding author should indicate whether the work described in the manuscript has been discussed with a specific Communications Earth & Environment editor before submission. Copies of any papers containing related work that are under consideration or in-press at other journals should be included with the submission as additional supplementary information.

Manuscripts submitted to Communications Earth & Environment do not need to adhere to our formatting requirements at the point of initial submission; formatting requirements only apply at the time of acceptance.

Each new submission is assigned to a primary editor, who may be either one of our in-house editors or an Editorial Board Member. The primary editor reads the paper, consults with other members of the editorial team, and then evaluates the novelty and potential impact of the work, the appropriateness for the journal's editorial scope, the conceptual or methodological advances described in the paper, and its potential interest to the readership of Communications Earth & Environment. Manuscripts that meet these editorial criteria are sent out to external reviewers for further assessment.

The novelty of a submitted paper is considered to be compromised if it has significant conceptual overlap with a published paper or one accepted for publication by Communications Earth & Environment. Preprint archives do not compromise novelty.

If a paper was previously reviewed at another Nature Portfolio journal, the authors can use an automated manuscript transfer service to transfer the reviewers' reports to Communications Earth & Environment via a link sent by the editor who handled the manuscript. Manuscripts received by Communications Earth & Environment via the transfer service that have associated reviewer comments from the transferring journal are only handled by our in-house editors. The editors at Communications Earth & Environment will take the previous reviews into account when making their decision, although in some cases the editors may choose to take advice from additional reviewers. Alternatively, authors may choose to request a fresh review, in which case they should not use the automated transfer link, and the editors will evaluate the paper without reference to the previous review process. However, this decision must be made at the time of initial submission and cannot be changed later.

If the authors ask the editors to consider the previous reviews, they should include a note explaining the relationship between the submitted manuscript and the previous submission and (assuming it has been revised in light of the reviewers' criticisms) give a point-by-point response to the reviewers. In cases where the work was felt to be of high quality, papers can sometimes be accepted without further peer review, but if there were serious criticisms, the editors will consider these concerns when making the decision. In the event of publication, the received date is the date of submission to Communications Earth & Environment. More details are available on the manuscript transfer service.


If your paper has been previously submitted to another Nature Portfolio journal, you can use our automated manuscript transfer service to submit the paper to Communications Earth & Environment. Alternatively, you may choose to submit afresh, in which case you should not use the automated transfer link, and your paper will be evaluated without reference to the previous decision process.

Communications Earth & Environment is editorially independent, and our in-house editors and Editorial Board Members make decisions independently from other Nature Portfolio journals. It is for authors alone to decide where to submit their manuscripts. For papers that satisfy the scope of more than one Nature Portfolio journal, the choice of which journal to submit to first lies with the authors.

Peer review

Communications Earth & Environment is guided by the Nature Portfolio editorial peer review policy. 

The following types of contribution to this journal are peer-reviewed: Articles, Comment, Matters Arising, Perspective, Reviews. All forms of published correction may also be peer-reviewed at the discretion of the editors. Other contributed articles are not usually peer-reviewed but, particularly if they present technical information, may be peer-reviewed at the discretion of the editors.

The corresponding author is notified by e-mail when the editor decides to send a paper for review. Manuscripts judged to be of potential interest to our readership are sent for formal review, typically to two or three reviewers. Reviewer selection is critical to the publication process, and we base our choice on many factors, including expertise, specific recommendations and our own previous experience of a reviewer's characteristics. When selecting reviewers, we seek to avoid conflicts of interest and close associates of the authors. Springer Nature is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion; Nature Portfolio journals strive for diverse demographic representation of peer reviewers. At submission, authors may suggest referees; these suggestions are often helpful, although they are not always followed. Authors are strongly encouraged to consider geographical regions, gender identities, racial/ethnic groups, and other groups when providing such suggestions for peer reviewers. Authors may also indicate a limited number of scientists who should not review the paper. Excluded scientists must be identified by name. 

This journal operates a single-anonymized peer review process, and on request double anonymized peer review.  In line with policy, reviewers are not identified to the authors, except at the request of the reviewer.  

This journal requires potential reviewers to disclose any professional and commercial competing interests before undertaking to review a paper, and requires reviewers not to copy papers or to circulate them to un-named colleagues. All reviewers agree to these conditions before the journal sends them a manuscript to assess. Although our Editors go to every effort to ensure manuscripts are assessed fairly, the journal is not responsible for the conduct of its reviewers.

The peer review of any submissions for which the Editor has a competing interest is handled by another Editor who has no competing interests, to ensure that the evaluation of these submissions is completely objective.

The editors make a decision based on the reviewers' advice, from among several possibilities: (a) Accept “in principle”, with mainly editorial revisions; (b) Invite the authors to revise their manuscript to address specific concerns before a final decision is reached; these could be either minor or major revisions; (c) Reject outright, typically on grounds of major conceptual, technical and/or interpretational problems.

Manuscripts submitted to collections follow the standard peer review policy. 

Transparent peer review

Communications Earth & Environment operates a transparent peer review system: for all manuscripts submitted from 23 January 2023 we publish the editor decision letter, the reviewer comments to the authors and author rebuttal letters of revised versions of our published articles (this applies to all peer reviewed content). For manuscripts first submitted before 23rd January 2023, authors can opt in or opt out of transparent peer review at the completion of the peer review process, before the paper is accepted. If the manuscript was transferred to us from another Nature Portfolio journal, we will not publish reviewer reports or author responses of versions of the manuscript under consideration at the original Nature Portfolio journal but for transparency, we will declare that the paper has been reviewed elsewhere. The peer review file is published online as a supplementary peer review file. 

We hope that the peer review files will provide a detailed and useful view into our peer review process. Nevertheless, it is important to note that these files will not contain all the information considered in the editorial decision making process, such as the discussions between editors, informal correspondence, or any confidential comments made by reviewers or authors to the editors.

We are committed to maintaining the anonymity of our peer reviewers where reviewers wish to be anonymous. Reviewer names will only be published in the peer reviewer files if the reviewer comments to the authors are signed by the reviewer, or if reviewers explicitly agree to release their name.

In some cases, the editors may redact information from the reviewer reports if they are deemed to contain confidential data. Authors may request redactions on the basis of protecting specific confidential information. Please note that we cannot incorporate redactions for other reasons.

Decision after review and revision

In cases where the reviewers have requested well-defined changes to the manuscript that do not appear to require extensive further work, editors may request a revised manuscript that addresses the reviewers' concerns. The revised version is normally sent back to some or all of the original reviewers for re-review. The decision letter will specify a deadline (typically two months), and revisions that are returned within this period will retain their original submission date.

In cases where the reviewers' concerns are more wide-ranging, editors will normally reject the manuscript. If the editors feel the work is of potential interest to the journal, however, they may express interest in seeing a future resubmission. The resubmitted manuscript may be sent back to the original reviewers or to new reviewers, at the editors' discretion.

In either case, the revised manuscript should be accompanied by a cover letter explaining how the manuscript has been changed, and a separate point-by-point response to reviewers' comments. Ideally no more than two resubmissions will be considered for each manuscript, following which we will aim to reach a final decision on publication.

An invited revision should be submitted via the revision link to the online submission system provided in the decision letter, not as a new manuscript.

Final submission and acceptance

A request for final submission is sent when the paper is nearly ready to publish, possibly requiring some changes to the text, but no revisions to the data or conclusions. These letters are accompanied by detailed comments on the paper's format indicating editorial concerns that must be addressed in the revision. The final submission must comply with our format requirements, which are summarized in our style and formatting guide.

After acceptance, our typesetters may make changes to the manuscript so that the paper conforms to our style. Communications Earth & Environment uses Oxford English spelling.

For the final revision, authors should use the revision link to the online submission system provided in the decision letter to upload a final version of the text with all the requested format changes and electronic files of the final figures at high resolution.

When all remaining editorial issues are resolved, the paper is formally accepted. The received date is the date on which the editors received the original manuscript. The accepted date is when the editor sends the acceptance letter.

Corresponding authors are sent proofs and are welcome to discuss proposed changes with the editors, but Communications Earth & Environment reserves the right to make the final decision about matters of style and the size of figures.


In cases where editors did not invite resubmission, authors are strongly advised to submit their paper for publication elsewhere, although it is possible for authors to ask the editors to reconsider a rejection decision. These are considered appeals, which, by policy, must take second place to the normal workload.

Decisions are reversed on appeal only if the editors are convinced that the original decision was a serious mistake, not merely a borderline call that could have gone either way. Further consideration may be merited if a reviewer made substantial errors of fact or showed evidence of bias, but only if a reversal of that reviewer'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 editors may send the authors' response or the revised paper to one or more reviewers, or they may ask one reviewer to comment on the concerns raised by another reviewer. On occasion, particularly if the editors feel that additional technical expertise is needed to make a decision, they may obtain advice from an additional reviewer.