Peer review policy
All submissions to ISCI are assessed by an Editor, who will decide whether they are suitable for peer review. Where an Editor is on the author list or has any other competing interest regarding a specific manuscript, another member of the Editorial Board will be assigned to assume responsibility for overseeing peer review. Submissions felt to be suitable for consideration will be sent for peer review by appropriate independent experts. Editors will make a decision based on the reviewers’ reports and authors are sent these reports along with the editorial decision on their manuscript. Authors should note that even in light of one positive report, concerns raised by another reviewer may fundamentally undermine the study and result in the manuscript being rejected.
Open peer review
For journals operating an open peer review process, the reviewers’ names are included on the peer review reports. In addition, if the manuscript is published, the named reports are published online alongside the article as part of a ‘pre-publication history’. All previous versions of the manuscript and all author responses to the reviewers are also available to readers on request. On rare occasions, information from the pre-publication history may not be available for a specific article.
Authors will be aware of the reviewers’ names during the peer review process and vice versa. However, there should not be direct correspondence between authors and reviewers. Any correspondence between the authors and the reviewers during or after the review process should be made through the journal Editors.
Closed peer review
Most journals operate a closed peer review process. Reviewers will be treated anonymously and the pre-publication history of each article will not be made available online.
Authors may suggest potential reviewers if they wish; however, whether or not to consider these reviewers is at the Editor’s discretion. Authors should not suggest recent collaborators or colleagues who work in the same institution as themselves. Authors who wish to suggest peer reviewers can do so in the cover letter and should provide institutional email addresses where possible, or information which will help the Editor to verify the identity of the reviewer (for example an ORCID or Scopus ID).
Authors may request exclusion of individuals as peer reviewers, but they should explain the reasons in their cover letter on submission. Authors should not exclude too many individuals as this may hinder the peer review process. Please note that the Editor may choose to invite excluded peer reviewers.
Intentionally falsifying information, for example, suggesting reviewers with a false name or email address, will result in rejection of the manuscript and may lead to further investigation in line with our [misconduct] policy.
Portability of peer review
To support efficient and thorough peer review, we aim to reduce the number of times a manuscript is re-reviewed after rejection from ISCI, thereby speeding up the publication process and reducing the burden on peer reviewers. If a manuscript does not reach the interest criteria of a given [ISCI journal], but is sound and in scope for another ISCI journal, we offer authors the option to transfer the manuscript together with the reviewer reports to the other journal.
Editors may share manuscripts with Editors of other ISCI journals before contacting authors in order to assess suitability for transfer to another journal. Authors who do not wish their manuscript to be shared with other ISCI journals should indicate this in their cover letter on submission. Reviewers who do not wish us to share their report with another ISCI journal should indicate this in the confidential section of their report. Transfer of a manuscript does not imply that it will be automatically accepted by the receiving journal, and on some occasions the Editor of the receiving journal may need to conduct their own peer review and/or reject the manuscript if it is not suitable.
If a manuscript is transferred to, and published in, a journal with open peer review, we will, wherever possible, make the reviewers’ reports available through the pre-publication history of the article (see ‘Open peer review’ above). On some occasions this will not be possible; for example, when the manuscript has been peer reviewed in a closed peer review journal first. Although we will ask reviewers to make their reports available, reviewers providing reports for closed peer review journals will sometimes prefer to maintain this confidentiality and their anonymity. In such cases we will publish a note from the Editor on the pre-publication history of the manuscript to explain the peer review history for that particular case.
Where a manuscript was initially reviewed in an open peer review journal and is subsequently transferred to a closed peer review journal and published, the reviews will not be published alongside the article. If reviewers wish to make their report publicly available, they can post it as a comment on the article upon publication.