2021 was another tough year. For many in our community, the twists and turns of the Covid pandemic have been fatiguing, especially given we had all hoped that by now the pandemic would have subsided and life would have started to get back to ‘normal’. Not so, but we have been constantly encouraged by the strength and resilience of the JEB community and, upfront, would like to thank you all for your continued support.

Despite The Company of Biologists’ offices being closed throughout the year and all editorial and production staff continuing to work from home, 2021 was a busy year for JEB. We said our fond farewells to longstanding Editor Andy Biewener while welcoming new Monitoring Editor Monica Daley and Reviews Editor Gillian Durieux. We also launched a new journal website (https://journals.biologists.com/jeb), published a supplementary special issue exploring the role of experimental biology in assessing and predicting the susceptibility or resilience of species to human-induced environmental change (https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/issue/224/Suppl_1), and updated our journal policies to increase transparency by encouraging authors to publish computational, mathematical and statistical analyses, including R-code, and additional details of experimental protocols as supplementary material (https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/pages/manuscript-prep#6).

Another key focus last year was our desire for equity, diversity and inclusion across all aspects of the journal. As a founding signatory on 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/), we are working with other publishers to recognise disparities and biases within scientific publishing and promote inclusivity in all our activities. We have recently introduced a new policy to facilitate authors in retrospectively changing their names (for any reason) on historic JEB articles (https://journals.biologists.com/jeb/pages/journal-policies#namechange) and, in early 2021, we incorporated a gender identity field within our people database to allow individuals to self-describe their gender identity. Data collected from authors, invited reviewers, Monitoring Editors and Editorial Advisory Board members during 2021 are shown in Fig. 1. Self-reporting such demographic information helps us to understand the diversity of our reader/authorship; while the quality of science and scientists remains paramount, we can then aim to better represent this diversity within our editorial teams and publishing activities. We are actively trying to widen our reviewer pool and would encourage anyone who would like to review for us to create an account and log their areas of expertise in our database (https://submit-jeb.biologists.org/). We have also asked authors and editors to consider diversity (including gender, ethnicity, geography and career stage) when suggesting/inviting reviewers.

Fig. 1.

Distribution of gender identity in authors (N=1601), invited reviewers (N =1419), Monitoring Editors (N=11) and Editorial Advisory Board members (N=46) during 2021. Data were self-reported through the JEB manuscript tracking system. Individuals were asked to select one option from a drop-down list or to self-describe.

Fig. 1.

Distribution of gender identity in authors (N=1601), invited reviewers (N =1419), Monitoring Editors (N=11) and Editorial Advisory Board members (N=46) during 2021. Data were self-reported through the JEB manuscript tracking system. Individuals were asked to select one option from a drop-down list or to self-describe.

On behalf of the Editors and editorial team, we would like to express our gratitude to those who have peer reviewed for the journal over the past year (a full list of reviewers and co-reviewers completing reviews in 2021 can be found in the supplementary material). We really appreciate your time and commitment during what has been a trying year for many and acknowledge the huge contribution you make to the quality, accuracy and integrity of research published in JEB.

We are also indebted to our Editorial Advisory Board – whose role includes assisting the Monitoring Editors in assessing the suitability (in terms of scope and content) of submitted manuscripts for the journal, as well as reviewing and adjudicating on papers. In particular, we would like to thank those Board members that stepped down in 2021 for their valued service over the years and welcome all the new members to the team (see Box 1).

Box 1. Newly appointed members of the JEB Editorial Advisory Board

Denis V. Andrade (São Paulo State University, Brazil)

Rohini Balakrishnan (Indian Institute of Science, India)

Andrew A. Biewener (Harvard University, USA)

Gary Burness (Trent University, Canada)

Susana Clusella-Trullas (Stellenbosch University, South Africa)

Angela Fago (Aarhus University, Denmark)

Jessica L. Fox (Case Western Reserve University, USA)

Susannah S. French (Utah State University, USA)

Roi Holzman (Tel Aviv University, Israel)

Vinod Kumar (University of Delhi, India)

Katie E. Marshall (The University of British Columbia, Canada)

Matthew J. McHenry (University of California, Irvine, USA)

Laura A. Miller (University of Arizona, USA)

Hollie M. Putnam (University of Rhode Island, USA)

Katsufumi Sato (The University of Tokyo, Japan)

Inna Sokolova (University of Rostock, Germany)

Finally, we would like to publicly acknowledge the hard work and enthusiasm of the team of early-career researchers (ECRs) who write for our Outside JEB section and scour the literature to select and highlight the most exciting developments in experimental biology published in other journals and preprints. We are proud to be able to support ECRs in this initiative, and it is always pleasing to welcome new members to the team and to see them develop their writing skills and gain confidence under our careful guidance; we are also delighted that several of our Outside JEB alumni have used this experience to progress into careers in science communication – we wish them well. This year, we welcome the following ECRs to the team: Dillon Chung (National Institutes of Health, USA), Michael Country (National Institutes of Health, USA), Angelina Dichiera (The University of Texas at Austin, USA), Julie Jung (University of Utah, USA), Chloe Malinka (University of St Andrews, UK), Jonaz Moreno (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA), Kristina Muise (The Royal Veterinary College, UK) and Giullia Rossi (University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada).

As a transformative journal, JEB is committed to Open Access publishing, believing that it benefits science through wider and faster dissemination and higher readership of quality research papers. In the past, the high costs of Open Access publication have proved prohibitive for many of our authors, so we are delighted that the introduction of The Company of Biologists’ Read & Publish initiative in November 2019 has proved so popular with institutions around the world (over 400 institutions in more than 30 countries have already signed up and we also have agreements in place with library consortia in seven countries – see https://www.biologists.com/library-hub/read-publish/participating-institutions/). In addition to offering corresponding authors immediate, fee-free Open Access publishing of research papers in JEB and its sister journals Development, Journal of Cell Science and, from 2022, Disease Models & Mechanisms and Biology Open, these deals provide all researchers at participating institutions with unlimited free online access to all three hybrid subscription journals. A further Read & Publish agreement negotiated with EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) means that researchers in 30 developing and transition economy countries can also benefit from free Open Access publishing (see https://www.biologists.com/library-hub/read-publish/library-consortia/eifl/). As a result of these initiatives, we have seen a marked increase in the percentage of Open Access papers published in JEB (from only 1% of the total published papers in 2019 to 21% in 2021). You can hear more about the benefits of Open Access from some of our authors at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj723P7e3ds&t=10s. We hope that the number of libraries signing up for these transformative agreements will continue to grow, increasing article accessibility and helping authors to meet funder and institutional mandates for dissemination of their work.

Whether you publish your paper Open Access – either via our Read & Publish initiative or Gold Open Access (author pays) model – or benefit from our Green Open Access model (free publication; articles free-to-read after 6 months), we aim to increase the visibility of your research and ensure your paper reaches as wide an audience as possible. We do this in a number of ways – featuring highlights of selected research papers in the Inside JEB section within the journal, posting articles on our twitter, Facebook and WeChat accounts, liaising with institutional Communications/Press Office teams about press releases, and issuing our own press releases of selected articles for distribution to journalists via email and through the AAAS website EurekAlert!. We are fortunate that the research published in the journal often has far-reaching appeal beyond the researchers working in that discipline, and JEB papers frequently appear in both mainstream and scientific media publications: Box 2 shows some of the papers that attracted high levels of media coverage during 2021. Journalists often wish to talk to the people behind the research while writing their news piece, so we always liaise with authors when setting embargo dates to ensure that they are available in the run-up to publication. Talking to journalists can be quite daunting for researchers who have not experienced this kind of media interest before, so we are happy to provide guidance on what to expect and how authors can prepare to give themselves and their research the best exposure.

So, what else can you do, as an author, to help your JEB paper reach a wider audience? If you use social media, don't forget to tweet about your recent publication; if you include the JEB twitter handle (@J_Exp_Biol), we may re-tweet your post. If you want to see who else is discussing your work, click on the ‘View metrics’ link alongside your article on the JEB website (if you are using our newly introduced split-screen view, this can be found in the ‘Related & metrics’ tab). We encourage you to retweet/like/share posts that mention your research. The Company of Biologists also has a YouTube account (https://www.youtube.com/user/CompanyofBiologists) and we are always looking for short (less than 3 mins) movies about the papers we publish to post on the JEB channel – if you have an interesting supplementary movie associated with your paper or would like to produce a video abstract, please contact the Editorial Office as soon as your paper is accepted for publication.

As we look forward to the coming year, we are very excited to be publishing a special issue entitled ‘Building New Paradigms in Comparative Physiology and Biomechanics’. Given that fieldwork and lab work have been restricted for many researchers over the past year, this issue includes papers that have utilised and applied meta-analytical approaches to existing datasets to reveal fundamental phenomena in comparative physiology and biomechanics. Through a combination of Research Articles, Reviews and Commentaries, we have tried to reflect the breadth of subject matter published in the journal – both in terms of subfields and taxa. Many thanks to all those researchers who responded to our Call for Papers by submitting manuscripts.

Looking further ahead, in 2023, we will be making a special effort to raise the profile of comparative physiology and biomechanics research as JEB celebrates its centenary. This is a fabulous opportunity for us to not only reflect on the rich archive of ‘experimental biology’ research published in the journal over the past 100 years – including papers by at least three Nobel prize winners and seminal papers that have gone on to launch and shape some of the subfields in modern-day research – but also to look forward and consider the future direction(s) of experimental biology over the next 100 years and how it intersects with other scientific disciplines. One of the key reasons for JEB's longevity is the resourcefulness and dedication of the researchers in the field and we truly feel that this is as much a celebration of the experimental biology community as of the journal. Over the next year, we will be planning a variety of events, activities, awards and journal content to recognise this milestone and we would like to involve as many of you as possible in our celebrations. Please look out for a Call for Papers later in the year and, in the meantime, if you have any suggestions for ways that we can provide additional support to the community or take part in events that you are arranging in 2023, we would love to hear from you.

Box 2. Some of the JEB papers that attracted media attention in 2021

Carnahan, A. M., van Manen, F. T., Haroldson, M. A., Stenhouse, G. B. and Robbins, C. T. (2021). Quantifying energetic costs and defining energy landscapes experienced by grizzly bears. J. Exp. Biol. 224, jeb241083.

Choy, E. S., O'Connor, R. S., Gilchrist, H. G., Hargreaves, A. L., Love, O. P., Vézina, F. and Elliott, K. H. (2021). Limited heat tolerance in a cold-adapted seabird: implications of a warming Arctic. J. Exp. Biol. 224, jeb242168.

Chusyd, D. E., Nagy, T. R., Golzarri-Arroyo, L., Dickinson, S. L., Speakman, J. R., Hambly, C., Johnson, M. S., Allison, D. B. and Brown, J. L. (2021). Adiposity, reproductive and metabolic health, and activity levels in zoo Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). J. Exp. Biol. 224, jeb219543.

Harrison, J. S., Porter, M. L., McHenry, M. J., Robinson, H. E. and Patek, S. N. (2021). Scaling and development of elastic mechanisms: the tiny strikes of larval mantis shrimp. J. Exp. Biol. 224, jeb235465.

Horký, P., Grabic, R., Grabicová, K., Brooks, B. W., Douda, K., Slavik, O., Hubená, P., Sancho Santos, E. M. and Randák, T.  (2021). Methamphetamine pollution elicits addiction in wild fish. J. Exp. Biol. 224, jeb242145.

Katz, I., Shomrat, T. and Nesher, N. (2021). Feel the light: sight-independent negative phototactic response in octopus arms. J. Exp. Biol. 224, jeb237529.

McNamara, M. P., Singleton, J. M., Cadney, M. D., Ruegger, P. M., Borneman, J. and Garland, T. (2021). Early-life effects of juvenile Western diet and exercise on adult gut microbiome composition in mice. J. Exp. Biol. 224, jeb239699.

Mehta, R. S. and Donohoe, K. R. (2021). Snowflake morays, Echidna nebulosa, exhibit similar feeding kinematics in terrestrial and aquatic treatments. J. Exp. Biol. 224, jeb234047.

Pagano, A. M. and Williams, T. M. (2021). Physiological consequences of Arctic sea ice loss on large marine carnivores: unique responses by polar bears and narwhals. J. Exp. Biol. 224, jeb228049.

Thompson, N. E., Rubinstein, D., Parrella-O'Donnell, W., Brett, M. A., Demes, B., Larson, S. G. and O'Neill, M. C. (2021). The loss of the ‘pelvic step’ in human evolution. J. Exp. Biol. 224, jeb240440.

Supplementary information