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Novel editorial changes enhance The EMBO Journal


Transparent reviews, increased character limits and more visibility


Announcing the latest advances in molecular biology since 1981, The EMBO Journal will introduce novel editorial changes to take effect in 2009 that will:

  • make for a transparent editorial process by publishing online author and referee comments
  • actively encourage citation of primary literature by removing references from manuscript character limits
  • increase visibility of insightful papers across the broad readership by highlighting them in a new front section
    called Have you seen?


Heidelberg, 5 December 2008 – The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) announced today key editorial changes for The EMBO Journal, the leading international journal that publishes the latest advances in molecular biology. The planned changes will benefit authors in three ways - more transparency through online publication of editorial communications; increased character limits to encourage citation of primary literature; and greater visibility of insightful research in a new front section.


"The EMBO Journal has been our flagship publication for 27 years, sharing knowledge broadly within the molecular life sciences community," said Hermann Bujard, EMBO Director. "We are excited by the editorial changes that will make publication of research findings more transparent, complete and visible."


Transparent editorial process


Publication of research findings is very important to scientists. But scientists tend only to know about how things work at a scientific journal through personal experience and hearsay. By making the evaluation of manuscripts visible to everyone, The EMBO Journal aims to encourage constructive referee and author argumentation. Younger scientists will gain valuable insight into how to publish their research findings as well as how to deal with critique.


"The EMBO Journal has an efficient and reasonable editorial process," writes Executive Editor Pernille Rørth in an advanced online publication of the editorial in the first issue for 2009 (Volume 28 Number 1). "Instead of just saying so, we will make it visible. A transparent editorial process will help demystify decisions."


Beginning with manuscripts submitted in 2009, a supplementary process file will be included with the online publication of successful papers. The process file will show all dates relevant to manuscript processing and communications between the author, editors, referees and comments to the decision letter. Readers will learn about why referees find the paper interesting and any gaps they may have identified in the initial research findings and how the gaps were resolved in revision. Referee identities will be anonymous and confidential comments between the referee and editors will remain so. Authors will have the option to decline publication of the editorial process when they submit manuscripts.


More characters without sacrificing citation of primary literature


Editorial guidelines for The EMBO Journal have always encouraged citation of the primary literature. This is the correct approach in order to respect authors of the original research findings, even though it can be tempting to cite review articles so as not to compromise manuscript length with a longer list of primary references.


From 2009, references will not be included in character limits for manuscripts submitted to The EMBO Journal. Authors will be free to cite all primary literature references – benefiting authors of the original papers – and be rewarded with more space to present their research findings. Importantly, references will not be included in author page charges.


Have you seen?


The 18 subject areas of The EMBO Journal offer a breadth of scope that assures a broad readership in the molecular life sciences community. With free online access for EMBO Members – a diverse cross section of molecular biologists with proven excellence in research – and wide distribution by Nature Publishing Group (publisher of The EMBO Journal), authors can expect articles to be noticed by specialists in many fields of molecular biology.


Beginning in 2009, a new front section called Have you seen? will draw attention to, and discuss, interesting and insightful papers published in each issue of The EMBO Journal. Editors will invite short commentaries from other scientists for the new section to highlight key articles in the current issue. Read the editorial at www.embojournal.org


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Tilmann KießlingTilmann Kießling
Head, Communications
T. + 49 160 9019 3839