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Publishing life cycle: peer review

All Portland Press journals follow a single-anonymous process of peer review (i.e. the reviewers know the identity of the authors, but the authors do not know the identity of the reviewers). Reviewers assigned to papers do not see each other’s comments before writing their own, and the reviews received are completely independent.

On submission of your paper to any of our journals, it will be assessed by the Editorial Office staff to ensure that it is suitable to be sent for peer review. If there are any aspects of the submission that are not complete or require clarification (for example, incomplete figures, author list not complete) then the submission will be returned to you at this stage for completion.

If your paper is ready for full peer review, the Editorial Office assigns the paper to an Associate Editor (based on expertise) or to the Guest Editor of themed collections. At this stage the Associate Editor can decline the paper without full peer review (for example, this could occur if your paper is not within the scope of the journal). If the Associate Editor considers that your paper warrants full peer review, then two independent reviewers are assigned (these can be chosen from the journal’s Editorial Board, although this is not an absolute requirement).

When reviewer reports have been received (each reviewer is given 2 weeks to submit their comments), the Associate Editor assesses the reports and makes a decision on your paper based on the comments given by the reviewers and their own assessment of the paper. The Associate Editor writes the decision letter to you. On occasion, if reviewer reports are conflicting, the Associate Editor at this stage can ask the opinion of a third reviewer.

The decisions that can be made by the Associate Editor are:

  • Accept as it stands
  • Accept with minor revisions
  • Major revision invited
  • Revise and submit as a new paper (papers that have this decision require substantial revision, and the paper would be considered as a new submission and undergo the full peer review process if submitted again)
  • Reject and transfer (Portland Press publishes a sound science journal, Bioscience Reports, so papers that are considered sound may be given the option to transfer to this journal if the paper does not reach the threshold of novelty in other journals)
  • Reject outright

If you have been given the opportunity to revise your paper, you should submit a revised version of the paper (with the revision responding to the reviewer comments) within 1 month (minor revision) or 3 months (major revision). Please note that for the reviews-only journals published by Portland Press (Biochemical Society Transactions, Essays in Biochemistry and Emerging Topics in Life Sciences), the time given for revision of your paper will be different to that given above; a minor revision should be submitted within 2 weeks and a major revision should be submitted within 1 month. You can request an extension on submitting a revised version if you wish. However, if a revised paper has not been received after 1 year of receiving the decision letter (and there has been no contact from you requesting additional time), the paper will be considered a new submission if submitted after this time and will need to undergo the full peer-review process.

If you are submitting a revised version of your paper for consideration, you should also provide at submission a point-by-point response to the reviewer reports received for the previous version.

On submission of the revised version, an initial assessment is made by the Editorial Office to ensure that the paper can enter the peer-review process. If there are any aspects of the submission that are not complete or require clarification (for example, incomplete figures, author list not complete) then the submission will be returned to you at this stage for completion.

Once a revised paper has entered peer review, it will be assessed by the Associate Editor who handled the peer review of the original submission [in some cases, a different Associate Editor may need to be assigned (for example, if the original handling Associate Editor is on leave), but in these cases the Associate Editor is asked to assess the paper based on the previous Associate Editor’s decision]. At the point of submission of the revised paper, the Associate Editor can assess the revisions made to the paper themselves, without having to send the paper back to the reviewers. If the Associate Editor would like input from reviewers, the revised paper is assigned to the reviewers who assessed the original version.

A decision will be made on the paper, which is sent to you by the Associate Editor. If the paper has now been recommended for acceptance, the paper enters the production process to prepare it for publication.


If you wish to appeal the decision that has been made on your paper, the process followed is set out below (and is according to the Core Practices published by COPE).

  1. You contact the Editorial Office appealing a decision and giving the reasons why you are appealing the decision.

  2. The paper is sent to an independent member of the Editorial Board for assessment of the original reviewer reports and the original decision. In some cases, the person handling the paper can be the Editor-in-Chief (if no one else is available).

  3. During independent assessment, adjudicating member of the Editorial Board may consult with the original reviewers and/or the authors.

  4. Following independent assessment, a final decision on the appeal will be sent to you. If the appeal is upheld and the decision on the paper needs to be changed, this will be done by the Editorial Office and you will receive a new decision letter.

Following the decision on the appeal, if there is further dispute, the Editor-in-Chief will be called upon to make the final decision. The Biochemical Society as a whole has the responsibility to ensure that their Society-owned publications are run in-line with scholarly publishing best practice in terms of ethics. In the rare event of any serious dispute, the Biochemical Society can also act as a final arbiter.

    |    Submission    |    Peer review    |    Publication   |    Promotion

More information on Portland Press publishing policies can be found at the links below:

Language-editing services

For further information, please contact:

  • The Editorial Office for information on preparation, submission or peer review of articles
  • The Production Team for information post-acceptance of an article and production queries
  • The Marketing Team for guidance on promotion of your paper
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