Contributions submitted to Royal Society journals that are selected for peer review are usually sent to two or more, independent referees. Authors are welcome to suggest suitable referees, which the Society may consider.
The referees’ reports constitute recommendations to the Editors of the journals who are ultimately responsible for accepting or rejecting submissions.
Royal Society Open Science publishes articles from across the whole of science, engineering and mathematics.Top
The criteria for acceptance are:
- Original research in science, engineering or mathematics
- Submissions should sufficiently advance scientific knowledge. Negative findings, meta analyses and studies testing reproducibility of significant work are also encouraged. Repeated experiments will only be considered if they provide a meaningful contribution to the literature. Derivative work will not be considered
- Results reported have not been published elsewhere
- Conclusions are supported by the data
- Compliance with appropriate ethical standards, see our policy page
- Experimental protocols/procedure and statistical analysis performed to a high technical standard which are both methodologically and scientifically sound. Work must be high quality in terms of exhaustively analyzing all the relevant scientific/methodological issues
- Data supporting the findings of the paper are publicly available, and appropriately cited in the manuscript reference list. Data should be available to referees and Editors at the point of submission.
- Manuscripts submitted must satisfy our TOP guideline standards. Please see here for more details.
Objective peer review: Royal Society Open Science operates objective peer review. Most journals base their peer-review on two separate processes. The first stage is objective and assesses the rigour of the methodology and statistics, and the validity of the conclusions. The second stage is subjective and attempts to estimate the likely impact or importance of the work. The validity and appropriateness of this second, subjective stage is being increasingly questioned and there is a growing view that impact and importance (which depend very much on the audience and field) are better judged by the community after publication. Royal Society Open Science will operate using the first stage only – objective peer-review. As long as a submitted article fulfills the selection criteria listed above, the judgement as to its importance and impact will be left to the individual reader, the scientific community and, in the longer term, posterity.
Electonic Supplementary Material: Supplementary material should also be reviewed in addition to the main text and attention should be paid to ensure that:
- Where possible, references only appear in the main article and not in the supplementary material.
- All relevant database accession numbers are included.
For more information on what is expected of authors please see our data and material sharing policy.
Statistics: A statement of good statistical practice is available. Referees may request that the article be sent to a specialist statistical reviewer.
Ethics: Any ethical concerns should be included in the referee's report. For example, concerns regarding animal experimentation, human studies or conservation issues.Top
Open peer review
Royal Society Open Science encourages authors to opt for open peer review. In the eventuality that an author requests open peer review, your full referee report will be published alongside the published paper. More information as well as a list of the possible scenarios can be found here. Referee reports are made public under an open access licence, CC-BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).Top
Submission of referee reports
The report form asks a series of multiple choice questions and has space for comments to the Authors as well as for additional confidential comments to the Editors.
Referees may ask to see supporting data not submitted for publication, or a previous paper submitted but not yet published.
Publishing Ethics policy
This describes the Royal Society's position on the major ethical principles of academic publishing. Authors, editors and referees are asked to comply with this policy.
The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) have published ethical guidelines for peer reviewers that provide basic guidance on the principles and standards that peer reviewers are expected to adhere to.
It is the policy of the Society that the names of referees are kept confidential, unless otherwise requested by referees in their report. Royal Society Open Science strongly urges referees to surrender this anonymity to support open and transparent decision-making.
When agreeing to referee an article, all referees undertake to keep the article confidential, and not to redistribute it without permission from the Society. If the advice of colleagues is sought, referees must inform the Editorial Office and ensure that confidentiality is maintained.
Conflicts of interest
Where referees have a conflict of interest (eg competing commercial interest or a personal association that could bias judgement) this should be declared upon invitation to referee.
Speed of refereeing
The Society endeavours to keep time from submission to publication as short as possible. Therefore, we ask referees to report back within 14 days of receiving the manuscript. In certain instances, an extension to this time may be granted by the Editorial Office, but should be agreed in advance.
If referees are unable to report, it is requested that the Editorial Office is informed as soon as possible so that the assessment process is not delayed. Where referees find they are unable to review the assigned manuscript, the Editor welcomes suggestions of alternative referees competent to review it. These suggestions should be passed to the Editorial Office.
For some rejected manuscripts, the authors will be invited to submit a revised version. In these cases, one or more of the original referees will be sent the revised manuscript and asked to review it and comment on authors’ replies to their criticisms of the original version. This allows the referees to monitor changes made to the manuscript from the previous version.
In cases of a substantial disparity between referee reports, an adjudicator may be sought. Adjudicators are sent the referee reports and the full paper and asked to advise the Editor. Editorial Board members are often invited to be Adjudicators.
Authors have the right to appeal a rejection decision if they regard it as unfair. In this circumstance, referees may be asked by the Editor to comment on issues raised by the authors.
Notification of final decision
We will provide notification of the Editor’s ultimate decision to all referees.
Referee details are entered on our editorial database to ensure that we can process articles efficiently. In accordance with the Data Protection Act, referees are informed that the data will be used for processing articles for publication as well as for general administrative purposes. We will not pass your information on to third parties other than our contractors, suppliers or agents who we use to provide services that you have requested or who help us provide those services.
A copy of the Society's data protection policy, including data subjects' rights, is obtainable from the Society (ref DPSA/JHS).
Royal Society Open Science has partnered with the Publons peer reviewer recognition scheme to give reviewers formal recognition for their work
Over tens of thousands of experts already use Publons to effortlessly track, verify and showcase their peer review and editorial contributions across the world's journals, without compromising reviewer anonymity. Publons makes it simple to include verified evidence of your peer review and editorial activity in funding, promotion and visa applications. Our partnership with Publons allows those who review for Royal Society Open Science to easily track and verify every review by electing to add the review to their Publons profile when completing the review submission form. You can also add reviews you have done for other journals by forwarding your review receipts (i.e. "thank you for reviewing" emails from journals) to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about Publons at: https://publons.com/in/royalsociety/.Top