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Rubric for BiO editorial decisions

Submissions to BiO (Research articles and Methods & Techniques) will be evaluated according to the following rubric.

I. Initial assessment by Editorial Office

  • For best practice and transparency, and to allow better assessment of the quality of the data and whether the data support the conclusions, BiO requires that you use graphs that allow the reader to see the true data spread (unless an n = 1 is stated). For bar graphs with error bars, individual data points are required. If data points are too numerous, please indicate variance using an acceptable alternative approach. More information can be found on the Manuscript preparation page.  
  • Figures should be suitable for readers with colour vision impairment (aka colour blindness).
  • If we cannot understand the manuscript, or if there are frequent grammatical or syntax errors that are barrier to comprehension, then authors will be asked to address this before consideration by an editor.
  • BiO does not consider articles in pure physics, chemistry, engineering, earth sciences, clinical studies, surgical procedures, public health, and homeopathy, complementary or alternative medicine.

Authors will be asked to address the above issues before the article is assigned to an Academic Editor for further evaluation. Articles that are out of scope will be withdrawn.

II. Review by Editor before peer review

  • The manuscript must address a clearly stated biological hypothesis or the manuscript must report a discovery with a discussion of how the observations could be applied to a field or used to address a hypothesis.
  • Manuscripts describing new or optimized protocols must be sufficiently validated: proper positive and negative controls, standard curves to assess sensitivity, assays to assess specificity (where relevant), measurements of robustness.

III. Manuscript sent for peer review

  1. Experimental quality
    1. Does each figure have the proper controls?
    2. Are experiments performed using appropriate methods that will answer the question (or test the hypothesis or support the observations) posed by the authors? Is the right tool used for the job?
    3. Were the data analyzed using appropriate statistical tests?
  2. Reproducibility
    1. Were experiments in each figure performed using adequate number of biological replicates?
    2. Is there sufficient raw data to assess the rigor of the analysis?
    3. Does the methods section provide sufficient detail to permit reproducibility?
  3. Completeness
    1. Are the author’s conclusions supported by the data?
    2. Are there any flaws in the experimental design that invalidate the approach taken by the authors?
    3. Are there experiments that have not been performed, but if true would disprove the conclusion? If yes, and if such experiments would be costly or time-consuming to perform, do the authors acknowledge this in a discussion of the limitations?
  4. Scholarship
    1. Do the authors cite and discuss the merits of relevant data that would argue against their conclusion?
    2. Do the authors cite and discuss the merits of relevant data that would support their conclusion?
    3. For techniques/methods manuscripts, Do the authors cite and discuss the current state of the field and clearly explain how the method improves the field?

IV. Review by Editor after peer review

  • Editors will read the peer review reports and assess the above criteria. If the manuscript meets all the above criteria, then the manuscript should be accepted for publication. If there are deficiencies in the manuscript, then the Editor can decide whether to reject outright (if deficiencies are not fixable) or, if the deficiencies are fixable, the Editor can encourage the authors to revise and resubmit. Editors will encourage authors to modify the text or the interpretation of results, rather than conduct additional experiments, when feasible.
  • Subjective criteria such as broad interest or impact are not to be considered as a basis for rejecting a manuscript.
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