SfN Journals: Simplified Submissions Improve Scientific Exchange
While technology has accelerated nearly every aspect of the scientific enterprise, scholarly publishing has struggled to keep up with the pace of today’s science. An analysis of all papers in PubMed from 1980 to 2015 revealed that papers languish for a median of 100 days from submission to acceptance, a statistic that has changed little in 30 years.
“Many [researchers] say that they feel trapped in a cycle of submission, rejection, review, re-review and re-re-review that seems to eat up months of their lives, interfere with job, grant, and tenure applications and slow down the dissemination of results,” writes Kendall Powell in a 2016 Nature news feature about the time it takes to publish a paper.
Recognizing the toll publishing delays can take on research careers and funding, SfN’s journals have taken decisive steps to simplify and streamline the submission process.
Simplifying Initial Submissions
When authors are ready to submit or resubmit to a different journal after initial rejection, reformatting a manuscript’s text, figures, tables, and references to meet a publisher’s specifications can be frustrating and a waste of time and money. That is why JNeurosci and eNeuro now allow authors to submit a single PDF in any format for initial submission, and formatting changes can be made at the revision stages of the review process.
“Many [researchers] say that they feel trapped in a cycle of submission, rejection, review, re-review and re-re-review.”
Neuroscientists increasingly are turning to preprint servers to share their findings with the scientific community while their paper is under consideration at a journal. According to PrePubMed, hundreds of new neuroscience papers are uploaded to bioRxiv every month. Integrations with bioRxiv and the research document platform Authorea enable authors to submit manuscripts directly to the journals from these platforms. No additional formatting is required.
Reducing Redundancy in Peer Review
Reevaluating a manuscript rejected from another journal delays publication and puts an unnecessary burden on overworked reviewers. Authors may instead choose to have a previous set of reviews from a participating Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium journal forwarded to one of SfN’s journals.
Driven in part by increasing demands from reviewers for additional experiments, the size and complexity of datasets per journal article in the life sciences has increased substantially. eNeuro imposes limits on these requests by not accepting papers requiring more than three months of work. In addition, a fast and constructive peer review experience means authors are equipped with the information they need to prepare their paper for publication, whether in eNeuro or another journal.
Rapid, Fair Editorial Decisions
SfN’s journal editors are scientists who regularly submit their own research for publication in journals. As authors themselves, they understand firsthand that rapid and fair peer review makes for a positive publishing experience.
JNeurosci and eNeuro provide authors feedback within a month of submission. To further speed up the initial editorial decision, authors unsure if their manuscript is appropriate for JNeurosci may submit a free pre-submission inquiry — a cover letter, abstract, and significance statement.
Full submissions rejected without review can be particularly painful for authors. However, as JNeurosci Editor-in-Chief Marina Picciotto explains, editorial rejection provides authors with a rapid decision while saving reviewers’ time. These decisions are not made lightly, but rather involve careful consideration by at least two of the journal’s reviewing editors.
SfN’s two journals are distinguished in part by their complementary scopes. While both journals publish research in all areas of neuroscience, JNeurosci looks for in-depth, mechanistic studies that will shape the field. Initial observations of neurobiological phenomena fall within the scope of eNeuro, which also welcomes reports of new tools and methods, negative results, and replication studies. Strong submissions to JNeurosci may be recommended for a seamless transfer to eNeuro. These transferred manuscripts enjoy a roughly 85 percent acceptance rate, minimal revisions, and a quick turnaround time.JNeurosci and eNeuro provide authors feedback within a month of submission.
Researchers around the world are collecting and sharing data on an unprecedented scale. Global collaborations in neuroscience like the International Brain Laboratory are revolutionizing discovery by pooling resources and expertise. By simplifying submissions, JNeurosci and eNeuro are accelerating the publication of important and exciting neuroscience research.