At Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB), we are privileged to have continuously published the most outstanding research in comparative biology for a century (Knight, 2023). Comparative physiologists, biomechanists and neuroethologists from across the globe send us articles that disrupt paradigms and shift our understanding of the animals that inhabit this planet. As a community journal, we take pride in supporting the researchers that we serve and, as such, we are committed to adding high-quality production values to the research that you publish in the journal. Produced by The Company of Biologists, a not-for-profit organisation that invests the proceeds from its journals back into supporting the biological community, JEB aims to provide an exceptional author experience all the way from submission to final publication.
Steering manuscripts through peer review and publication
Led by Editor-in-Chief Craig Franklin, the team of 11 Handling Editors is at the heart of the journal, guiding your manuscripts through the peer review process, weighing up referee comments and offering wise advice to early-career researchers negotiating the peer review system for the first time. All principal researchers in their sub-fields, and active champions of the comparative approach, the Editors are deeply committed to the community, overseeing the decisions on hundreds of articles each year. They are supported, in turn, by our team of Editorial Administrators, Sue Chamberlain, Daisy Gudmunsen and Rosie Thomas, who personally ensure that manuscripts proceed through peer review in a timely manner, contacting referees when their reviews have been delayed and ensuring that no correspondence goes unanswered. In addition, the Editorial Administrators support researchers through online manuscript submission, providing advice, answering questions and informing authors about the different article types published by the journal.
Once an article has been accepted, it passes over to our team of dedicated and highly skilled Production Editors – Andrea Bowden, Emma Kelly and Kate Vaughan – all scientists by training, with more than 30 years of publishing experience at the journal between them. They painstakingly copyedit each manuscript, using their eye for detail and meticulous language skills to ensure that the text and figures of each article are as consistent, clear and accessible as possible, providing a level of support that is no longer available at many journals. In addition, the Production Editor team ensures that each manuscript follows the author's chosen publication route – either through free publication or various Open Access options, including institutional Read & Publish agreements – supporting authors through data deposition and collating supplementary materials. Once authors have checked the proofs of their manuscript, the Production Editors liaise with our e-publishing partner, TechSet, to ensure that all corrections have been incorporated accurately before scheduling the completed article for online publication as soon as possible. Simultaneously managing between 20 and 40 manuscripts at different stages of the production process at any one time, the team runs an efficient and courteous system that seamlessly transitions each manuscript from acceptance to online publication of the version of record.
Promoting researchers and their research
The journal's commitment to your research also continues after publication. The ECR Spotlight series, launched in 2023, allows the early-career researchers that underpin the majority of scientific research to tell us about their experiences during their PhDs and postdocs while thinking ahead to future goals. By highlighting junior researchers, we provide them with a platform that introduces them to the community as they embark on their careers.
We also feature a selection of research papers from each issue in Inside JEB, providing a lay person's introduction to the study. Having published more than 1800 Inside JEB articles in the past 20 years, we have talked to hundreds of JEB authors – many from international collaborations – about their research, the background story and their discoveries, distilling the fundamental essence of each study into an easily accessible summary. We also promote Inside JEB articles alongside the primary research articles through our social media platforms, reaching members of the wider community and the public through Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), WeChat and now Mastodon on The Company of Biologists’ Mastodon server. Articles on similar themes are also collated in Special Collections online, including compilations of papers on the themes of comparative biomechanics of movement, ecophysiology and neuroethology, as well as two collections dedicated to the specially commissioned content celebrating the journal's 100th anniversary.
Reaching a broader audience
In addition to our active presence on social media, the journal has a successful track record of promoting the research that we publish to the world's media through press releases, reaching news organisations including the New York Times, the BBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Le Monde and Al Jazeera, to name a few of the global media outlets that have featured JEB publications over the years. Circulating embargoed press releases to over 300 journalists through The Company of Biologists’ Press Site, which gives registered journalists access to the movies and images associated with a breaking story, we also distribute press releases through the AAAS's press release server, EurekAlert!, to ensure the widest possible outreach. Our team handles direct media enquiries too, distributing embargoed content on request, as well as working with authors and university press offices to coordinate publication with their own media strategy. We see this as a key benefit of publishing in JEB, raising the international profile of authors, facilitating new scientific collaborations and developing contacts with the media. And the success of our outreach can be charted in the colourful Altmetrics donuts (Fig. 1) that accompany each article published in the journal, tracking social media outreach, blogs, news articles, Wikipedia citations and Mendeley saves. We also encourage researchers to promote their own work, through social media – including a link to their paper and JEB social media handles – and YouTube movies.
As part of our centenary celebrations this year, Movie 1 (Fig. 2) highlights some of the incredible stories that we have promoted through our press releases and how authors have benefitted from this experience. We feature Christofer Clemente (University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia), Christine Cooper (Curtin University, Australia) and colleagues’ study revealing how the behaviour of the short beaked echidna changes through the seasons and their extraordinary impact on the environment of Australia, as each animal is capable of excavating 200 m3 each year (Clemente et al., 2016). Recalling her experience of dealing with journalists’ enquiries, Cooper says, ‘The demand for interviews was rather intense at the time, but it was fantastic to have the opportunity to talk about Australia's unique wildlife’, adding that the contacts she made led to work on documentaries with several international film crews, which resulted in another publication and supported fieldwork in Madagascar and South Africa. Jeremy Niven (University of Sussex, UK) and colleagues’ recent paper investigating the impact of artificial light at night on the ability of male glow-worms to locate females (Moubarak et al., 2023) was picked up by over 200 news outlets (Fig. 1). ‘I think the coverage says a lot about how effective JEB is in reaching the different aspects of the press. I don't recall ever having had so much coverage for any of my work before for papers published’, says Niven.
In Movie 2 (Fig. 3), we focus on one specific research paper that generated significant media coverage; Anthony Carnahan (Washington State University, Pullman, USA) tells us how he and his colleagues measured the energy consumption of grizzly bears ascending and descending inclines while walking at different speeds on a bear-sized treadmill, to find out how much energy the animals use while negotiating the terrain in Yellowstone National Park, USA (Carnahan et al., 2021). Carnahan says, ‘We received about 39 requests [for interviews] about our research from literally all over the world’, adding that the exposure opened new collaborations with other scientists.
Since the journal's launch in 1923, our commitment to serving our community of authors and disseminating their research to a broad audience remains the same. We can't wait to see what new and exciting innovations you will send our way and we are excited about the opportunity to tell the world about your next big breakthrough. Whether you have recorded the fastest land animal for its size or teased apart mechanisms to ameliorate ocean acidification in sea creatures, we will be ready and waiting to bring the news of your discovery to the world.