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Reviewer guide

Access the Reviewer area and/or submit your review here.

Unbiased independent critical assessment is of vital importance in scholarly publishing. DMM adheres to The Company of Biologists' editorial principles and to the guidelines on publishing objective and unbiased scientific information set by COPE (the Committee on Publication Ethics). For more information on the principles that are of relevance to reviewers (including confidentiality and competing interests), please visit our journal policies page. Please also see our editorial process and details on different article types.

DMM expects reviewers to review papers in a respectful manner. Please take care to ensure that any statements are factually supported, and that opinions stated are genuinely held and well-justified. On rare occasions where the Editors of the journal are concerned that papers have not been reviewed according to these principles, we might contact the reviewer and request changes to the report before it is transmitted to the authors.

DMM encourages the involvement of postdocs and other early career scientists in the peer review process. We simply ask that: the name of the co-reviewer is reported to the Editor (a field is provided in the report form for this purpose); the same rules of confidentiality and conflict of interest be applied; there is a genuine mentoring process; and the senior invited reviewer takes final responsibility for the report delivered to the journal.

Reviewers wishing to identify themselves to the authors by signing their reviews are welcome to do so.

To avoid breaches of confidentiality, peer reviewers must not upload manuscripts to AI tools. If any part of the evaluation of a manuscript was produced or supported by an AI tool, we ask peer reviewers to declare the use of such tools transparently in the peer review report. Peer reviewers must remain accountable for all content in their review, including any AI-generated comments. DMM values the expertise of our peer reviewers and believes that expert human review is vital to ensuring scientific rigor.

To make manuscript submission as easy as possible for authors, DMM has a format-free submission policy, meaning that authors are not required to adhere to journal formatting guidelines when they first submit a manuscript for peer review. We encourage authors to format their manuscripts for ease of viewing by reviewers and Editors by using double-line spacing and inserting line numbers, but this is not a mandatory requirement. As an author, we are sure you appreciate this policy; however, as a reviewer, if you have trouble viewing a specific manuscript, please contact the Editorial Office and we will ask the authors to provide a more user-friendly version.

Research and Resources & Methods articles rejected from DMM might be transferred, strictly with the authors' approval, to The Company of Biologists’ online Open Access journal Biology Open (BiO) for editorial review. In this case, the reviewer reports and identities will be made available to the BiO Editors. Reviewer identities are always anonymous to authors. By passing on reports, our aim is to reduce the burden on authors and reviewers by avoiding the multiple rounds of review often encountered on a paper's route to publication. Please contact the Editorial Office should you have any queries.

DMM will consider new submissions accompanied by peer review reports from previous submission to journals of similar scope. Please provide a covering letter that clearly states that you wish the existing reviews to be taken into account, and include all reviews and decision letters as supplementary information. Please note that we may contact the journal from which the reviews originated to confirm details. DMM also reserves the right to request additional peer review.

DMM values its reviewers and is a partner of the reviewer recognition service hosted by Web of Science (previously Publons), allowing reviewers to receive formal recognition for their peer review contribution.

We are always glad to receive comments and suggestions from reviewers. Thank you for generously contributing to the reviewing process, and for your time and effort in sustaining DMM as a high-quality research journal.


General information about DMM

DMM is a peer-reviewed (single blind) Open Access journal that publishes original research, resources, methods and invited reviews that focus on the use of model systems to better understand, diagnose and treat human disease. The journal aspires to promote the development of new ideas, projects and collaborations among basic researchers, translational scientists and clinicians, and we are committed to presenting highly significant research that meets this goal. The interdisciplinary nature of DMM means that a diverse range of diseases, approaches and models fall within its scope. To learn more about the type of content the journal typically publishes and the disease areas and model systems of interest, please visit our aims and scope page.

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Guidelines for reviewing Research articles

With your help, DMM aspires to promote a peer review system that is timely, thorough, constructive and fair. Below are the core questions to consider when approaching a primary research manuscript for review. Also provided in our Reviewer area is a questionnaire to specifically guide your manuscript evaluation. We welcome reviewers to contact DMM editorial staff at any point for further information or assistance.

DMM operates a system of cross-referee commenting. The aim of this is to help resolve differences between referees, identify unnecessary or unreasonable requests, or – conversely – highlight valid concerns raised by one referee but overlooked by others. Our system provides a 48 hour window to allow referees to comment on each others' reports before the editor makes a decision. We would greatly appreciate any feedback you may have on the other referees' reports, particularly if your appraisal of the manuscript differs from theirs. The editor may also be in touch directly with specific questions that will help him/her to make a decision on the manuscript.

DMM requests your help in assessing two fundamental aspects of original research manuscripts. First is whether the manuscript presents sound and unique science. Second is whether the manuscript belongs in DMM, considering both the high standards of the journal and the potential interest of the work to the broad DMM audience. We hope you will help us sustain a journal in which you would be proud to publish.

  1. The primary criterion for a manuscript to be published in DMM is its scientific excellence. Experimental design and techniques must be sound, and the analysis and conclusions robust and to a high standard. Studies must significantly broaden our understanding of human disease, using established or newly developed models, and/or lead to the development of novel diagnostics or therapeutics. Studies lacking such a contribution, no matter how meticulous, are not acceptable for publication in DMM.
  2. We encourage reviewer comments regarding the potential interest of the manuscript to the broad audience of DMM and whether the paper's translational impact and appeal to both clinicians and basic scientists is reflected by its title and abstract.
  3. DMM will generally not publish work that is wholly descriptive or technical, such as the development or characterisation of a new model system, without providing significant new insights that advance a field. Only under exceptional circumstances will an Editor decide that an exemption to these guidelines is warranted, for example, if a new model system in itself is considered an extremely important advance to the field.
  4. When assessing supplementary material, please check whether all of the data submitted are appropriate and essential for supporting the findings of the paper. Only data files (movies, tables, figures, datasets) are accepted as supplementary material. We do not accept as supplementary material text files containing materials and methods, results, or discussion, as these should be included in the manuscript itself.
  5. We ask that reviewers specifically assess manuscripts in terms of the validity of statistical methods used, as well as the quality and integrity of the data presented. Please clearly outline any potential concerns in these areas (such as inappropriate data manipulation or improper use of statistics) in your report.
  6. When writing your review, please avoid placing comments regarding an explicit opinion for or against publication of a manuscript in DMM in the Comments to Author box. Comments along these lines should only be made in the confidential Comments to Editor box. Likewise, please ensure that all constructive and detailed comments outlining any suggestions for revision are placed in the Comments to Authors box.
  7. Because preprints are not peer reviewed, reviewers should not reference preprints as examples of lack of novelty when evaluating manuscripts. Authors may be encouraged to discuss relevant preprints, but they should not be taken into consideration when making a recommendation on a paper.

Please note that an Editor may seek additional feedback from reviewers or advisors in cases in which a decision is not straightforward; this may involve sharing reviewer reports (anonymously). However, editorial decisions are not made according to a majority rule as an Editor will evaluate the recommendations of all the reviewers before reaching a final decision. Reviews are also shared among reviewers of the same paper once a decision has been communicated to the authors.


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Guidelines for reviewing Resources & Methods articles

DMM asks reviewers of Resources & Methods articles to assess whether the paper describes a novel method, a substantial advance of an existing method, or a new resource that will have a significant impact on disease biology research. Resources & Methods articles must also demonstrate proof-of-principle in the form of newly acquired insight into disease. Genome editing, lineage tracing, imaging, microscopy, bioinformatics and software tools, and databases are considered within the scope of Resources & Methods articles. New techniques and methods should be described in sufficient detail to be easily replicated in other laboratories, and validated to demonstrate their utility for understanding, diagnosing or treating disease. Where similar methods exist, the advance represented should be clearly shown. Reviewers of papers describing a new dataset or resource should assess whether it will be of major value to a wide field in translational research. Reviewers should also comment on whether the paper fulfils the requirement of making the data or resource available to the community with minimal restrictions.

All other standard reviewing guidelines that relate to Research articles, including the article’s length, supplementary material and statistical analysis (as detailed above), also apply to Resources & Methods articles.

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Guidelines for reviewing commissioned articles

Commissioned articles in DMM (Reviews, Special Articles, At A Glance Poster articles and Clinical Puzzles) aim to provide a timely, insightful and accessible overview of a particular field or aspect of research. For specific details on the aim and format of each article type, please refer to our article types page. Please note that commissioned articles are edited in detail in-house to help authors revise their articles. Please also note that it can be hard for us to reject commissioned manuscripts because of a reviewer's lack of general enthusiasm for an article. If you have specific concerns or objections about publication of the article, please make these explicit in your report.

Below, we provide a list of points for reviewers to bear in mind when reviewing each type of commissioned article.

 Reviews and Special Articles

Reviews aim to highlight, critique and analyse recent important findings in a defined field of basic or translational disease research. As well as providing a current, balanced and accessible overview of the topic, the article should discuss future prospects, challenges and outstanding questions. Controversial issues should be addressed and treated with unbiased tact.

Special Articles come in the form of an essay on a topic related to disease research or a review of a technical or applied nature. The specific format and scope can vary depending on the topic; please consult the Reviews Editor for specific guidelines.

  1. Do the title and abstract clearly reflect what the article is about? Do they indicate the article’s potential interest to the DMM readership?
  2. Does the author provide new insight into the topic being reviewed?
  3. Are the author's arguments logically and coherently made? Are counterbalancing view points acknowledged and discussed?
  4. Are there any inappropriate omissions (i.e. are all of the relevant key experiments and hypotheses covered)?
  5. Is the article adequately and appropriately referenced?
  6. Is the article accessible to non-specialist readers?
  7. Is the article too long? If so, what could be omitted or condensed?
  8. Is the information provided in figures, figure legends, boxes and tables clear and accurate?
  9. Are all the display items included helpful and informative?

 At A Glance Poster articles

At A Glance articles consist of one large ‘poster’ figure and a short accompanying text of up to 4000 words. These articles are intended to provide an illustrative overview of a specific aspect of disease model generation, or aid in understanding disease mechanisms or treatment. They are broad in scope and should appeal to both specialists and non-specialists. Importantly, the poster should act as a ‘stand-alone’ resource and should therefore be understandable in isolation from the text. Please note that all posters are redrawn by our graphics artist following peer review.

Additional points to consider:

  1. Does the poster contain an appropriate amount of information (i.e. is there any unnecessary information included or anything important missing)?
  2. Are the author's explanations and illustrations of the topic accessible to both the basic science and clinical communities?
  3. Are their points logically and coherently made, and are all appropriate view points acknowledged?
  4. Does the author cover all the necessary aspects of the topic and provide an up-to-date account?
  5. Does the poster convey a clear message?
  6. Does the poster clearly distinguish what is known from what is speculation?
  7. Does the text provide the appropriate background information to complement the poster?

 Clinical Puzzles

Clinical Puzzles are written by clinicians to describe diseases that need to be addressed by basic research involving biological models. They are intended to extend the range of diseases being pursued by the disease model research community. Clinical Puzzles aim to outline the significant clinical problems poised to benefit directly from new basic research using model systems and what steps might facilitate the development of such models.

  1. Do the title and abstract clearly reflect the article’s focus? Do the title and abstract reflect the article’s potential interest to DMM’s broad audience?
  2. Does the author describe the clinical problem in a manner accessible to both research scientists and clinicians? (Are all appropriate terms included in the Glossary?)
  3. Are the author's arguments logically and coherently made? Are counterbalancing view points acknowledged and discussed?
  4. Does the author address all of the necessary aspects of the topic and provide an up-to-date account of it?
  5. Is the article adequately and appropriately referenced?
  6. Is the information provided in figures, figure legends, boxes and tables clear and accurate?

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Focus on biodiversity: The Forest of Biologists

The Forest of Biologists logo

To acknowledge our reviewers, who help preserve the integrity of the scientific record, we are funding the restoration and preservation of ancient woodland within Great Knott Wood in the Lake District National Park, UK. Each time a peer reviewer completes the review process for one of our articles, we will dedicate a tree in the ancient woodland to them. Representations of these trees will be added to our virtual forest periodically. There will be no association with specific articles to ensure that peer reviewers retain their anonymity.

Read the Editorial to find out more about The Forest of Biologists.

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