Neuroscience Bulletin receives more submissions than can be published in each issue. It is therefore important that manuscripts are critically evaluated for compliance with the following criteria:
All submitted manuscripts are initially assessed by the Scientific Editor(s) for suitability for the review process. The views of an Associate Editor may be sought for further input on this decision. To save authors’ and reviewers’ time, only those manuscripts judged most likely to meet our editorial criteria are sent out for formal peer-review.
Manuscripts that are sent for formal review typically go to 2-3 reviewers. The peer review process should be completed within 2 weeks. Reviewers who agree to review manuscripts may receive reminders at the time the review is due. Based on the reviewer’s advice, the Associate Editor decides to:
Reviewers may recommend a particular course of action in their confidential comments to the editors, but reviewers 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 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.
Reviewers may, on occasion, be asked for further advice, particularly in cases where they disagree with one another, or where the authors believe that they have been misunderstood on points of fact. This kind of discussion is sometimes necessary to ensure an effective and fair review process. We do understand, however, that reviewers are reluctant to be drawn into prolonged disputes, so we try to keep consultation to the minimum we judge necessary to come to a fair conclusion. In certain cases, additional reviewers or members of our Editorial Board may be consulted to resolve disputes, but this is avoided unless there is a specific issue on which further advice is required.
To avoid unnecessary delays in processing manuscripts, please do the following immediately upon receipt of a manuscript for review:
Reviewers should treat the review process as strictly confidential, and keep the following guidelines in mind:
The primary purpose of reviewer reports is to provide the editors with the information necessary to reach a decision, but they should also instruct the authors on how to strengthen their manuscript if revision is a possibility. Reviewers are asked to submit both confidential comments to the editor and those that can be directly transmitted to the authors. We recommend the following division of the report:
Reviewers are asked to maintain a positive and impartial, but critical attitude in evaluating the 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 report to the author 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.
Additional confidential comments to the editor might include:
Neuroscience Bulletin is committed to rapid editorial decisions and publication as efficiency in this process is a valuable service to both 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. This allows us to keep the authors informed and, when necessary, to find alternative reviewers.
In order to ensure fairness in the review process, we try to avoid enlisting the help of 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; in our view, 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 spite of our best efforts to identify breaches of publication policy or ethical conduct, such as plagiarism or conflict of interest, reviewers who are more familiar with the field are more likely to recognize such problems and should alert the editors to any potential difficulties in this regard.