Peer Review Process
All submissions are initially read by the Editor-in-Chief and/or an associate editor to assess overall suitability for the journal. Suitable articles are then assigned to a Section Editor (SE) for closer scrutiny. Section Editors are likely CSTP Editorial Board Members (EBMs) but may also be Visiting Editors not listed as Board members on our website.
If the SE determines the article to be in need of further revision prior to full peer review (e.g., additional references needed, structurally unclear, inadequate quality of writing, assistance with English needed, etc.), they will return it to the author with an assessment of strengths and weaknesses and suggestions for revisions.
If the SE decides that the article is ready for peer review, they will assign it to two or more independent reviewers. All reviewers are asked to declare any and all competing interests when agreeing to conduct the review, and authors are invited to recommend reviewers or to ask for the exclusion of specific individuals from the peer review process. However, the journal cannot not guarantee adherence to these recommendations, particularly in the case of recommended reviewers. Only one reviewer from a list of recommended reviewers may complete the review process. All papers will be reviewed by at least one non-suggested reviewer.
After the SE receives at least two reviews, they will write a recommendation to the Editor-in-Chief regarding the article’s suitability for publication. The recommendation may be for acceptance, rejection, minor revisions, or major revisions, which usually require further review. Very few papers are accepted without requests for revisions. While the Editor-in-Chief is heavily guided by the recommendations of SEs, the ultimate decision regarding publication of any manuscript resides with the Editor-in-Chief.
The journal automatically operates a blind review process, meaning that reviewers are anonymous. The journal also offers an optional double-blind peer review process, meaning that authors also remain anonymous to the reviewers. If you wish to engage the double blind review process, please mention it in your cover letter on submission and take the appropriate steps necessary to provide blinded documents.
The entire process, as outlined above, generally takes at least 12 weeks. During that time, you can log into the JMS to check the status of your paper by clicking “Active Submissions” and looking on the far right of the page under “Status.” You will be able to see, for example, if reviewers have been invited, if the Editor is awaiting reviews, or if reviews have been completed.
The journal periodically commissions content. Commissioned articles will be subject to the same peer review process outlined here.
The journal is happy to accept submissions of papers that have been loaded onto preprint servers or personal websites, presented at conferences for which there are no published proceedings, or circulated via other informal communication channels. These formats will not be deemed prior publication as long as authors retain copyright to such postings. Authors of published articles are encouraged to link any prior posting of their paper to the final published version within the journal.
Members of the editorial team/board are permitted to submit their own papers to the journal. In cases where an author is associated with the journal, they will be removed from all editorial tasks for that paper and another member of the team will be assigned responsibility for overseeing peer review. A competing interest must also be declared within the submission and must appear with any resulting publication.
If the Editor-in-Chief (EiC) has any conflict of interest (CoI) (e.g., is an author on a submitted paper) then the Associate EiC assumes the role of EiC for that paper. If the Associate EiC also has a CoI (e.g., is also an author on the paper) then the Chair of the Journal Advisory Committee (JAC) assumes the role of the EiC. If all three of the aforementioned have a conflict, then the EiC and the Chair of the JAC appoint a non-conflicted Editor from the Editorial Board to act as EiC. The Acting EiC adheres to the same standard practices and processes as the EiC, including the appointment of a Section Editor to see the paper through the review process and approving/amending the Section Editor’s draft decision letter.
This process also applies to invited editors for special collections. If an invited editor for a special collection has a conflict of interest with any of the authors on a submitted paper they must contact the EiC and discuss a plan to find a suitable editor for the paper of concern. This could be the EiC or the Associate EiC (assuming that there are no further conflicts), otherwise the chair of the JAC may be asked to step in or to find an appropriate non-conflicted Editor from the Editorial Board.
If the EiC, AEiC, or a Special Collection Editor is recused from a paper owing to a conflict or perceived conflict, the EiC or acting EiC will notify the recused party once the final decision on the paper has been rendered and communicated to the authors.
Reviewers are asked to provide comments on the following topics and guidelines when writing their reviews:
Content: Does the article fit within the scope of the journal? Is the submission original, relevant, and rigorous? Does the author display an adequate depth of understanding of the issues researched? Are the sources and references adequate? Is the article’s place in the academic conversation evident through an exploration of the existing knowledge base, and does it contribute sufficiently to that conversation? Are the chosen methodologies appropriate? Have the methodologies and the bases of evidence presented been appropriately applied and interrogated? Does the conclusion reflect the argument in the main text and bring something new to the discourse?
Structure and argument: Does the abstract provide a brief overview of the paper, summarising the arguments in a succinct and accurate way, including a clear articulation of the new knowledge presented? Is the manuscript logically structured and do the arguments flow coherently? Is there enough reference to methodology in the introduction and are the arguments fully evidenced and substantiated? Does the introduction signpost the arguments in a logical way and does the conclusion adequately summarise them?
Figures/tables: Does the author’s use of tables, charts, figures, or maps illustrate the arguments and support the evidential base? Is the quality of the formatting and presentation adequate?
Formatting: Does the submitted paper adhere to the general author guidelines listed for the journal? Are the citations and references formatted to house style?
Language: Is the text well written and jargon free? Does the quality of the written English meet the academic standard? Are there patterns of error or areas in need of grammatical improvement?
Additionally, if an author has requested a double-blind review, please ensure you upload the scrubbed copy of their manuscript to reviewers. For further instruction, please see Ensuring a Blind Peer Review.
The journal allows authors to deposit draft versions of their paper into a suitable preprint server, on condition that the author agrees to the following terms:
- The author retains copyright to the preprint and developed works from it, and is permitted to submit to the journal.
- The author declares that a preprint is available within the cover letter presented during submission. This must include a link to the location of the preprint.
- The author acknowledges that having a preprint publicly available means that the journal cannot guarantee the anonymity of the author during the review process, even if they anonymise the submitted files (see the peer review policy).
- Should the submission be published, the authors are expected to update the information associated with the preprint version to show that a final version has been published in the journal, including the DOI linking directly to the publication.
Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier (ORCID)
The journal strongly reccommends that all authors submitting or listed on a paper register an account with Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier (ORCID). Registration provides a unique and persistent digital identifier for the account that enables accurate attribution and improves the discoverability of published papers, ensuring that the correct author receives the correct credit for their work. It’s free, and takes just a few moments here (https://orcid.org/register). As the ORCID remains the same throughout the lifetime of the account, changes of name, affiliation, or research area do not affect the discoverability of an author's past work and will aid in future correspondence with colleagues.
ORCID numbers should be added to the author data upon submission and will be published with accepted manuscripts. Even if you have entered your ORCID number previously for another paper you’ve published with us, you’ll need to enter it again along with your new submission to ensure that your number is associated with all of your work.
The journal strongly encourages authors to make all data associated with their submission openly available, according to the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) Principles. Each submission should contain a Data Accessibility Statement, including links to the data, which will be made public upon publication. If no data links are available, please provide an explanatory author statement with your submission. Authors are responsible for the authenticity and interpretation of that data. Data obtained from other sources must be appropriately credited.
As the traditional Materials and Methods section often includes insufficient detail for readers to wholly assess the research process, the journal encourages authors to publish detailed descriptions of their structured methods in open, online platforms such as protocols.io. By providing a step-by-step description of the methods used in the study, the chance of reproducibility and usability increases, whilst also allowing authors to build on their own works and gain additional credit and citations.
If research includes the use of software code, statistical analysis or algorithms then we also recommend that authors upload the code into Code Ocean, where it will be hosted on an open, cloud-based computational reproducibility platform, providing researchers and developers with an easy way to share, validate, and discover code published in academic journals.
All listed authors must meet our criteria for authorship, which are based on the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) definitions of such.
Authors must have:
made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work,; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work;
contributed to drafting the paper, or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
provided final approval of the version to be published;
agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved;
agreed to be named on the author list;
and approved of the full author list.
It is important that the correct list of authors is attributed to an article from the start of the submission process. Author lists with incorrect information can result in academic or financial implications, whilst also providing the reader with the wrong information on where the responsibility and accountability for the published work should lie. If an author is added after the initial submission, it is imperative that the corresponding author updates the author list in our system and in the Author Contribution Statement within their article.
Those that meet some but not all of the above criteria should be acknowledged but not listed as an author (see the Acknowledgments section in Author Instructions for Manuscript Preparation). Examples of individual’s contributions that do not qualify for authorship but should be acknowledged are sources of funding, supervision of research groups, administrative support, language editing, and proof reading. Written permission should be obtained from those being acknowledged, as in some cases being named in such a way may be seen as an endorsement of the publication.
If author affiliation changes between the time the research is conducted or the paper is written and the time of publication, the author’s current affiliation should be listed, and where appropriate, the previous affiliation acknowledged in the Acknowledgments section at the copy editing stage.
In addition, authors are required to specify funding sources and to detail requirements for ethical research in the submitted manuscript (see the section Ethics and Consent). All authors must confirm at the beginning of the submission process that they fit the definition of an author (see the Authorship section).
The Author is responsible for obtaining all permissions required prior to submission of the manuscript. Permissions and specific attributions are required for use of (included in the submission or used in the research) all or part of any material by anyone other than the author(s).
If a method or tool is introduced in the study, including software, questionnaires, and scales, any existing license for such method or tool and any requirements for permission for its use should be stated. For existing methods or tools used in the research, authors are responsible for checking the license and obtaining the necessary permissions for use.
Statements confirming that permission was granted should be included in the Methods section.
Please see the sections Figures and Tables for details on and examples of permission and attribution for reproduction and adaptation.
To ensure transparency, all authors, reviewers, and editors are required to declare any interests. hat could compromise, conflict with, or influence the validity of the publication. If there are no competing interests to declare, then the following statement should be present: The author(s) has/have no competing interests to declare. Please review our full Competing Interest Guidelines.
Corrections and Retractions
The Press handles different kinds of error in accordance with guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), where applicable. All articles have their proofs checked prior to publication by the author/editor, which should ensure that content errors are not present. Please contact the editorial manager if you believe an article needs correcting.
Post-publication changes are not permitted, except in exceptional circumstances. If an error is discovered in a published article, the publisher will determine the appropriate course of action, whether it be an amendment to the original article, the publication of a correction article or a retraction note, or a full retraction and withdrawl. This ensures that the error is appropriately corrected, whilst maintaining the integrity of the publication. Please see the publisher’s website for the full Correction and Retraction Policy.
Misconduct and Complaints
Allegations of misconduct will be taken with utmost seriousness, regardless of whether those involved are internal or external to the journal, or whether the submission in question is pre- or post-publication. All reasonable steps will be taken to identify and prevent the publication of papers where research misconduct has occurred, including plagiarism, citation manipulation, and data falsification/fabrication. If an allegation of misconduct is made to the journal, it must be immediately passed on to the publisher, who will follow the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines on how to address the nature of the problem. Should the matter involve allegations against a member of the journal or publishing team, an independent and objective individual(s) may be sought to lead the investigation.
Should an author wish to lodge a complaint against an editorial decision or the editorial process in general they should first approach the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, explain their complaint, and ask for a reasoned response. Should a response not be forthcoming or should it be deemed inadequate, the author should raise the matter with the publisher, who will investigate the nature of the complaint and act as arbiter on whether the complaint should be investigated further. This process will also follow guidelines set out by COPE.
If an author is accused of any kind of misconduct, they should notify the publisher (Ubiquity) directly and CC the EiC of the journal.
Ethics and Consent
Research involving human subjects, human material, or human data must have been performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Where applicable, the studies must have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee and the authors should include a statement within the article detailing this approval, including the name of the ethics committee and the reference number of the approval. The identity of the research subject should be anonymized whenever possible. For research involving human subjects, informed consent to participate in the study must be obtained from participants (or their legal guardian in the case of children. The exact details of consent, including age, should comply with those of the country in which the research is conducted).
Experiments using animals must follow national standards of care. For further information, see http://bit.ly/1rBoe0S.
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Review and Synthesis Papers
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