Our Editors make decisions guided by reports from experts in the field who give informed and unbiased opinions. This essential part of the publication process helps us to ensure the quality and integrity of the manuscripts we publish. Every year, we like to take the opportunity to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who acted as a reviewer or co-reviewer for the journal – the full list of those who did so in 2021 can be found in the supplementary information.
The process of peer review itself is going through a period of transition, with new innovations appearing on the landscape. Journal of Cell Science has been participating in Review Commons (https://www.reviewcommons.org/), a journal-agnostic peer review initiative, since the scheme's inception in 2019. This successful trial has seen the journal accept 45 papers submitted through this route so far, and we are pleased to continue our collaboration. We also joined the Preprint Reviewer Recruitment Network (https://asapbio.org/preprint-reviewer-recruitment-network) organised by ASAPbio, which enables willing researchers to share preprint feedback as work samples for review by participating journals.
In our quest to ensure that Journal of Cell Science publishes rigorous science that the community can trust, we believe there should be more transparency about the data we publish. In November 2021, we started recommending to all authors that they use graphs that allow the reader to see the true data spread (such as box and whisker plots or superplots); they use appropriate statistics with the sample size representing biological replicates rather than technical replicates; and they provide an additional supplementary figure that contains either full, uncropped western blots or substantial portions of the blots that highlight the origins of the bands shown in the figures. These guidelines are best practice and will also allow better assessment of the quality of the data, helping the editors and reviewers determine whether the data support the conclusions. We are not yet making these guidelines requirements, but we hope that authors will engage with us in this initiative to be more transparent with data presentation.
A strong focus for Journal of Cell Science in 2021 was, and continues to be, equity, diversity and inclusion. Being one of the original 12 signatories of the Joint commitment for action on inclusion and diversity in publishing (https://www.rsc.org/new-perspectives/talent/joint-commitment-for-action-inclusion-and-diversity-in-publishing/) organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, we agreed to look for ways to drive positive change in scholarly publishing. In November 2021, a set of minimum standards on which to build was launched by the group (https://www.rsc.org/new-perspectives/talent/minimum-standards-for-inclusion-and-diversity-for-scholarly-publishing/). These standards require a commitment from all signatories to scrutinise our own processes to minimise the biases that exist in scholarly publishing, and to report publicly on our progress at least once a year. Although we are still early on in the process, we are pleased to report that our numbers seem to approximately reflect the makeup of the cell biology community, with 63% of our corresponding authors in 2021 identifying themselves as male and 34% identifying themselves as female. These percentages are closely reflected in our Editorial Advisory Board, which is 63% male and 37% female, and in our Editors, 64% of whom are male and 36% of whom are female. Our active reviewer pool in 2021 was 67% male and 29% female. These proportions give us a good starting point from which to make positive changes, and we ensure we consider gender balance when making new appointments. We were also pleased to announce last year a policy allowing authors to choose to have name changes made in the journal with or without a public notification and without a formal correction of the article in question; that policy can be found on our policies page (https://journals.biologists.com/jcs/pages/journal-policies#namechange). And in September, we launched an essay series on the theme of ‘Equity, diversity and inclusion in cell biology’. We are hoping to give a voice to scientists about their experiences and will be publishing a selection of submissions in the journal in the coming months.
We also hope you will enjoy reading our most recent special issue on Cell Biology of Lipids, guest edited by James Olzmann (University of California, Berkeley). It will be published in March, but you can read all the latest articles published for this issue on our website (https://journals.biologists.com/jcs/issue/135/5). The topic has proved to be hugely popular, reinforcing what a key area of research this is for cell biologists. We have now opened our call for papers for our next exciting special issue on another fundamental topic – Cell Biology of Motors (https://journals.biologists.com/jcs/pages/cell-biology-motors). This special issue is guest edited by Anne Straube (University of Warwick), and we are open for submissions until 15 July 2022.
Journal of Cell Science proactively supports Open Access publishing, and as part of our commitment to becoming a Transformative Journal (https://www.biologists.com/transformative-journals/?utm_campaign=JCS_TJnews_Jan2022), we aim to grow the proportion of Open Access research content by at least 5% every year over the set transition period. We are delighted to announce that we exceeded this target for 2021, with 29% of our research content being Open Access. You can watch a video announcing this achievement here: https://youtu.be/AtiIUDATMqs. Meeting this goal was helped in large part by our Read & Publish agreements (https://www.biologists.com/library-hub/read-publish/), which offer authors a cost-neutral route to publishing their papers Open Access. There are now over 400 institutions in more than 30 countries with whom we have Read & Publish deals (https://www.biologists.com/library-hub/read-publish/participating-institutions/?utm_campaign=JCS_TJnews2_Jan2022), and with an additional agreement in place for corresponding authors in 30 developing and transition economy countries (https://www.biologists.com/library-hub/read-publish/library-consortia/eifl/), there should be options for all authors to publish with us regardless of their funder or financial status.
And finally, we have to give a shout out to FocalPlane (https://focalplane.biologists.com/), our microscopy community website, which celebrated its first birthday in July. The site has been moving from strength to strength, welcoming many more contributors and registered users, and seeing lots of new content, with discussions and posts about many different topics, microscopy-related job listings and a calendar of events. We heard some fantastic talks in our webinar series ‘FocalPlane features…’, and have added a news digest and a listing of microscopy-related preprints to our regular emails. FocalPlane is the place to connect people, products, resources and information related to the microscopy community, and it's never too late to get involved.
Despite a second year dominated by the pandemic, we hope that 2022 will bring more normality and plenty of face-to-face interactions, including at our Journal of Cell Science Meeting on ‘Cell Dynamics: Host–Pathogen Interface’ from 8 to 11 May at the beautiful Wotton House in Surrey, UK (https://www.biologists.com/meetings/celldynamics2022/). One thing we do know is that 2022 will bring great new cell biology, and we look forward to welcoming your submissions to the journal.