Independent unbiased critical assessment is of the utmost importance in scholarly publishing, and, like all journals, JEB relies heavily on the expertise and experience of its Editors, Editorial Board and Peer Reviewers to control the quality of the research we publish. With the number of published papers and new journals continuing to rise, we are fully aware of the number of review requests that our community of researchers receives every month and how they have to juggle and prioritise these requests with the other competing demands on their time.
With advances in technology and a rise in alternative/complementary publishing models, there is an increasing emphasis on getting research into the public domain as fast as possible – indeed, in our community surveys, speed to decision and speed to publication remain the top priorities. But researchers are often conflicted by the different roles they play in the publishing process. As an author, many are keen (and expect) to receive a quick decision on the fate of their manuscript; however, when acting as a reviewer, some find the review report deadlines requested by journals unrealistic and would value a longer turnaround time to consider the paper more thoroughly and fit the task around their other commitments (not to mention trying to maintain a good work–life balance).
Managing the conflicting demands of authors and reviewers is not easy but JEB does prioritise a thorough and constructive review and tries to set reasonable deadlines for review requests; our standard deadline is 15–21 days but, of course, we are willing to consider an extension if requested, particularly for early-career researchers. As a community journal, we see peer review as a key training opportunity and encourage senior researchers to involve their postdocs and other early-career researchers in manuscript review as part of a mentoring process (see http://jeb.biologists.org/content/reviewer-guide for further details). We also support formal recognition and verification of review contributions on the peer-review recognition site Publons (https://publons.com).
We value the time and expertise of our reviewers and would like to publicly thank all those who have contributed to our peer review process in the past year (see Supplementary Information for a list of reviewers in 2018). Those who have reviewed for us many times during the year have also been offered a free online subscription to JEB for 2019, with some opting to donate the subscription to a colleague in the developing world who is unable to access the journal through their own institute.