The Peer Review Process for the British Ecological Society journals

This time last year the British Ecological Society Publications team surveyed all researchers that had either submitted a manuscript to or reviewed a manuscript for, one or more of the five BES Journals.

A key recommendation from the survey was to provide more detail on the peer review process for the BES Journals. As it is Peer Review Week and the theme is transparency we thought this was a great opportunity to breakdown the peer review process that the BES Journals use and make it more transparent,  we have done this by providing a summary of the peer review process on the BES journals hub page. Below I have summarized this process for Journal of Animal Ecology:

For Journal of Animal Ecology we have:

  • A dedicated Editorial Office (Erika, Managing Editor and myself)
  • 4 Senior Editors Including Ken who is also Executive Editor
  • 63 Associate Editors

Last year we received reviews from 711 different people which we rely on to maintain the high standard of research we publish.We greatly appreciate their time and effort in evaluating papers and express our sincere thanks for their hard work and support.

The peer review process for JAE and the BES Journals

All the BES journals conduct a standard single-blind review process.

When a manuscript is submitted to a BES journal it passes through a number of steps:

(1) First, the manuscript is assessed by the Editorial Office to check the manuscript adheres to the journal guidelines. If there are any problems the manuscript will be unsubmitted and returned to the author to be corrected. The Editorial Office checks manuscripts in within 3 days and in practice most manuscripts are checked in on the day of submission.

(2) The manuscript is then passed to a Senior Editor who checks if the manuscript fits within the journal’s scope and is of interest to the broad readership of the journal. The Senior Editor will either reject the manuscript or pass it onto an Associate Editor. Senior Editors aim to handle manuscripts within 7 days.

(3) The Associate Editor checks that the research is scientifically rigorous and that the manuscript is of interest to the specific subject area. The Associate Editor then makes a recommendation to the Senior Editor to reject the manuscript, selects appropriate reviewers, or occasionally will ask the author to make revisions before sending it for review. We encourage Associate Editors to make an assessment on a manuscript within 7 days.

(4) In general, two reviewers are sought who analyse the work reported in the manuscript in detail and write a report. Reviewers are given 7 days to reply to an invitation to review and for JAE are given 15 days to review the manuscript.

(5) The Associate Editor evaluates the reviewers’ reports and writes a recommendation to the Senior Editor. Associate Editors are encouraged to make a recommendation within 5 days.

(6) The Senior Editor evaluates the Associate Editors recommendation and the reviewers’ reports and makes a decision. Once a recommendation has been received Senior Editors aim to make a decision on a manuscript within 7 days.

Based on these times the total review process is generally expected to take 50 days. In the office we try to minimise delays and are on hand to answer any queries.

Please note this is a general guide to the peer review process for original submissions. Revisions and resubmissions follow a similar pathway but some steps may differ across the journals.

The flow diagram below summarizes the peer review process that the BES journals follow:

Peer review workflow 3 cropped

Specific reviewer guidelines for each journal can be found here: Journal of Animal Ecology Functional Ecology, Journal of Applied Ecology, Journal of Ecology Method in Ecology and Evolution.

For more details please see our Guide to Peer Review in Ecology and Evolution.

Simon Hoggart, Assistant Editor, Journal of Animal Ecology


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