Acta Biochimica et Biophysica Sinica is a scientific journal publishing monthly research papers and reviews in biochemistry, molecular biology, biophysics and cell biology. Research papers should report original work not published or considered for publication elsewhere. Reviews should provide a concise introduction to the subject matter to inform the readers of the latest developments in a certain area. The acceptance criteria for a manuscript are the quality and originality of the research and its significance to our readership.
Criteria for publication:
· Broad biological significance
· Importance to the specific field
· Strong evidence for the conclusions that are drawn
The review process
All submitted manuscripts are assessed by the editorial staff for suitability for the review process. The abstract or a PDF file of manuscripts may be sent to Advisory Editorial Board members for further input toward this decision. To save authors and reviewers' time, only those manuscripts judged most likely to meet our editorial criteria are sent out for formal review.
Manuscripts that are sent for formal review typically go to three reviewers. Based on their advice, the editor decides to:
· Accept the manuscript, with or without minor revision;
· Invite the authors to revise the manuscript to address specific concerns before a final decision is reached
· Reject the manuscript, typically on grounds of specialist interest, lack of novelty, insufficient conceptual advance or major technical and/or interpretational problems.
Reviewers may recommend a particular course of action in their confidential comments to the editor, but should bear in mind that the editors may have to make a decision based on conflicting advice. Furthermore, editorial decisions are not a matter of counting votes or numerical rank assessments, but rather are based on an evaluation of the strengths of the arguments raised by each reviewer and by the authors. The most useful reviewer's reports, therefore, are those that set out clear, substantiated arguments and refrain from recommending a course of action in the comments directed to the authors.
Reviewer selection is critical to the review process, and our choice is based on many factors, including expertise, reputation, specific recommendations, and our previous experience with the reviewer. We avoid using reviewers who are chronically slow, sloppy, too harsh or too lenient. We normally send manuscripts to reviewers only after having contacted them about the possibility first, and expect reviewers to treat even this initial request as confidential.
Upon receiving a manuscript to reviewers
To avoid unnecessary delays in processing manuscripts, please do the following immediately upon receipt of a manuscript for review:
· Check the quality of the PDF-file on the system
· Double-check the deadline to ensure that there have been no misunderstandings regarding timing
· Contact the editorial office immediately if you anticipate any difficulties
· Consider whether there might be a conflict of interest for you (with the authors, their institution, their funding sources) and whether you can judge the article impartially
· Read the editor's letter carefully and be sure to note any points specific to the manuscript that the editor may have requested your opinion on
Reviewers should treat the review process as being strictly confidential, and should keep the following guidelines in mind:
· Manuscripts should not be discussed with anyone not directly involved in the review process
· Reviewers should check with the editors beforehand to avoid involving anyone who may have been excluded by the editor
· Reviewers should, as a rule, not disclose their identities to the authors
Writing the report
The primary purpose of reviewer's reports is to provide the editors with the information that they need to reach a decision, but they should also instruct the authors on how to strengthen their manuscript if revision is a possibility. Reviewers should submit confidential comments to the editor, they should also provide a summary that can be directly transmitted to the authors. Reviewers are asked to maintain a positive and impartial, but critical, attitude in evaluating manuscripts. Criticisms should remain dispassionate; offensive language is not acceptable. As far as possible, a negative report should explain to the authors the weaknesses of their manuscript, so that they can understand the basis for a decision to ask for revision or to reject the manuscript.
The ideal report should include:
An initial paragraph that summarizes the major findings and the reviewer's overall impressions, as well as highlighting major shortcomings of the manuscript. specific numbered comments, which may be broken down into major and minor criticisms if appropriate (numbering facilitates both the editor's evaluation of the manuscript and the authors' rebuttal to the report).
The report should answer the following questions:
· What are the major claims and how significant are they?
· Are the claims novel and convincing?
· Are the claims appropriately discussed in the context of earlier literature?
· Is the study of interest to more than a specialized audience?
· Does the paper stand out in some way from the others in its field?
· Are there other experiments that would strengthen the paper?
For manuscripts that may merit further consideration, it is also helpful if reviewers can provide advice on the following points where appropriate:
· How the clarity of the writing might be improved (without necessarily going into specific details of spelling and grammar)
· How the manuscript might be shortened
· How to do the study justice without overselling the claims
· How to represent earlier literature more fairly
· How to improve the presentation of methodological detail so that the experiments can be reproduced
· This author report should not include a recommendation regarding publication, which is regarded as confidential information since the final decision regarding acceptance, revision or rejection rests with the editor
ABBS is committed to rapid editorial decisions and publication as efficiency in this process is a valuable service both to our authors and the scientific community as a whole. We therefore ask that reviewers respond promptly or inform us if they anticipate a significant delay, which allows us to keep the authors informed and, where necessary, find alternative reviewers.
Conflicts of interest
Where authors have asked us to exclude reviewers and their reasons seems to justify this, we usually comply with their request. We also try to avoid reviewers who: have recent or ongoing collaborations with the authors, have commented on drafts of the manuscript, are in direct competition, have a history of dispute with the authors, or have a financial interest in the outcome. Because it is not possible for the editors to know of all possible biases, however, we ask reviewers to draw our attention to anything that might affect their report, including commercial interests, and to decline to review in cases where they feel unable to be objective. We do not find it necessary to exclude reviewers who have reviewed a paper for another journal; the fact that two journals have independently identified a particular person as well qualified to review a paper does not decrease the validity of her/his opinion in our view.
Publication policy and ethical considerations
In spite of our best efforts to identify breaches of publication policy or ethical conduct, such as plagiarism or author conflict of interest, the reviewers who are more familiar with the field are more likely to recognize such problems and should alert the editors to any potential problems in this regard.
Feedback to reviewers
When we ask reviewers to re-review a manuscript that has been revised in response to their criticisms, we normally send them copies of the other reviewers' comments. Upon request, we inform reviewers of our decisions and send copies of the other reviewers' reports. Reviewers who find that their recommendations have been overruled should realize that this does not imply any lack of confidence in their judgment. It is not uncommon for experts to disagree and, in the absence of a consensus, the editors must still reach a decision one way or the other.