Rigorous, constructive, transparent, efficient
36 days is the average time from submission to final decision
How it operates
Our collaborative peer review process maximizes quality while protecting the rights of researchers to submit their work for a rigorous, constructive, and efficient review.
Peer review is conducted by active researchers who have been meticulously selected for our editorial committees based on stringent excellence criteria.
We believe that peer review should be based on objective criteria for the validity and quality of the presented work. It should be rigorous, fair, constructive, and accountable to all parties. Lastly, but certainly not least, the process must be efficient.
To accomplish this, we developed a novel collaborative review platform that provides the highest quality service to all participants and brings together authors, reviewers, and the handling editor. We are constantly innovating to provide cutting-edge tools and services for peer review efficiency.
All submissions undergo the same rigorous review process, including those included in themed collections of research topic articles.
We are aware that the time available for researchers to engage in peer review is limited. And the process of inviting researchers to review can be inefficient. For this reason, we developed MECS MTS, a platform that enables MECS's review editors to:
(1) Investigate the submitted manuscripts to our journals.
(2) Determine which submissions complement their expertise.
(3) Assist their peers and the community by volunteering to evaluate these submissions.
(4) Participate as a reviewer at their convenience.
MECS MTS also permits our editors to maintain control over the peer review process. To ensure the best possible peer review experience, our associate editors, specialty chief editors, and field chief editors evaluate all review editors who volunteer through the platform.
Peer review principles
Through defined criteria and dedicated teams, MECS upholds rigorous quality standards for manuscripts and the peer review process. Manuscripts that meet these standards are accepted, while those that do not are rejected. We do not reject manuscripts based on their perceived impact potential, nor do we set a formal or informal rejection rate. Instead, we employ stringent quality checks to determine the worth and veracity of submitted work and put our editorial boards in command of content decisions.
Handling editors and reviewers may recommend rejection at any time; editors determine acceptance; and chief editors determine acceptance and rejection. The research integrity team within MECS performs pre-review and post-review quality screens and has the authority to reject articles that do not meet acceptance criteria. This model guarantees rigorous peer review, rapid decisions, and publication of high-quality research.
What is anticipated of each participant?
The authors must submit a manuscript with substantial scholarly value that lies within the journal's scope. They must adhere to all editorial and ethical policies and consider all reviewer and editor feedback.
The reviewers are subject matter experts who evaluate manuscripts using a quality assessment instrument and a designated review questionnaire that prioritize scientific quality, rigor, and validity. They assess the robustness and rigor of a study's methodology and ensure that the research draws valid conclusions and is supported by sufficient data.
The Editors are subject matter experts who diligently evaluate the peer review process and manuscripts. They only approve publication if the evaluators validate the manuscript's contents.
Chief editors, handling editors, reviewers, and authors are guided and supported by our peer review team, which upholds and ensures high quality standards for manuscripts and the peer review process itself, certifying the quality, scientific rigor, and validity of research articles and encouraging collaboration between authors, reviewers, and editors.
If an editor, reviewer, or author is uncertain about how to proceed during the peer review process, the peer review team is the primary resource for guidance, with two sub-teams specializing in research integrity and editorial review operations.
Manuscript quality requirements
Our research integrity team ensures that manuscripts adhere to high research and ethical standards and prevents the publication of any manuscripts that do not meet our quality requirements.
If a manuscript does not meet our editorial criteria and standards for publication, or if peer review or research integrity concerns are raised by any review participant or reader, regardless of the peer review or acceptance stage, the journal's chief editors and MECS' chief executive editor will investigate these concerns.
The following criteria are used by MECS to approve or reject manuscripts. Refer to our terms and conditions, author guidelines, publishing policies, and publication ethics for additional information.
All acceptable submissions at MECS must be valid:
(1) A valid research query and hypothesis, as well as a theory pertinent to the research question.
(2) The methodology is accurate and transparent, and the study's design and materials are well-organized.
(3) The language and presentation are plain and appropriate, and the figures and tables adhere to scientific norms and criteria.
(4) In accordance with MECS author guidelines regarding editorial and ethical policies.
(5) Determined based on a solid grounding in existing literature through adequate citation and coverage of the pertinent literature.
A submission may be rejected at any point prior to the article's official publication, including during initial validation, peer review, final validation, and, if issues are discovered late in the process, also post-acceptance, for the following reasons:
(1) There is no valid research query or hypothesis in the manuscript.
(2) The research examines a pseudoscientific research query.
(3) There are evident objective errors in the study design, data acquisition, or analysis methodologies.
(4) The study violates our ethical policies because it does not adhere to privacy protection guidelines, ethical review board approval guidelines, or internationally recognized standards for human or animal research.
(5) The language and presentation of the manuscript are inadequate for a rigorous and effective peer review to occur.
(6) The manuscript does not adhere to our editorial guidelines because it is not original, is plagiarized, or is a reprint of a previously published work.
(7) The authors have violated our authorship guidelines or have fraudulently fabricated, falsified, or manipulated images and figures.
(8) Based on flawed or biased analyses, the study's conclusions are deceptive and may even pose a hazard to public health.
(9) The references are obviously biased (geographic, self-citation, school of thought, citation cabal) and do not represent the current state of knowledge in the field.
Peer review quality requirements
Our editorial review operations team ensures that all manuscripts submitted to MECS undergo a high-quality, rigorous, and efficient peer review process. The group establishes and enforces peer review guidelines for editors, reviewers, and authors, which include best practices and editorial policies.
The team is accountable for maintaining the following quality standards:
(1) Editors and reviewers are specialists in the subject of the manuscript and have the requisite knowledge to evaluate the research, as evidenced by a substantial body of research work or publication history in the same or a related research field.
(2) Editors and evaluators have no ties to the authors and/or research that could compromise the impartiality of the peer review process.
(3) In the case that editors or reviewers improperly request the citation of their own published papers or those of the journal (coercive citations), they can be revoked and substituted during the review process.
(4) If it is discovered during peer review that editors or reviewers lack the necessary expertise or have a conflict of interest, the peer review team and/or editor may revoke and replace them.
(5) Reviewers comprehensively complete the subject-specific questionnaire provided to evaluate the scientific rigor, quality, and validity of the manuscript they are evaluating. Review reports are verified to ensure they provide authors with a constructive evaluation of the validity and quality of the manuscripts.
(6) Verification that the peer review process adhered to the quality standards, that the reviewers' and editor's concerns were addressed, and that the manuscript is ready for publication.
(7) Only high-quality manuscripts that meet our criteria for publication are published.
Editors and reviewers who accept a peer review assignment with MECS agree to the following:
(1) Have the requisite expertise to evaluate the quality, rigor, and validity of the manuscript.
(2) Provide comprehensive, high-quality review reports.
(3) Provide expeditious feedback while remaining receptive and willing to collaborate with authors.
(4) Communicate with the editors, authors, and editorial team in a professional, ethical, and constructive manner.
(5) Adhere to ethical publishing practices and refrain from requesting the inclusion of citations to their own or the journal's articles (coercive citations) unless academically valid and justifiable reasons are communicated.
Such practices will be monitored as part of our quality standards and may result in editors and reviewers losing their assignments and editorial board membership.
If an editor or reviewer fails to disclose ongoing collaborations that would compromise their ability to perform an objective review, or if they are found to have otherwise manipulated the peer-review process by using fake identities, fake or deceptive review reports, or a ring of members to expedite manuscript review (a peer-review ring), their participation in peer review will be terminated, and any ongoing submissions will be rejected. The issue will be mentioned with the institutions of the researchers.
The chief editors of the journal and the chief executive editor of MECS retain the right to request additional manuscript revisions, additional expert evaluation, and to overrule either acceptance or rejection following the handling editor's decision. This decisional power is outlined in the editorial policies and terms and conditions of MECS, to which all authors must consent prior to submitting a manuscript. All submissions to MECS are subject to the same editorial policies and processes.
Similarly, for manuscripts to continue to be considered for publication, the authors must:
(1) Continue to participate in the peer review process and respond to questions from editors, reviewers, or the MECS editorial office.
(2) Act in a professional manner, communicate with the editorial board, reviewers, and editorial office using constructive and respectful language, and collaborate effectively during the peer review process.
If participants in the peer review do not adhere to and meet these standards, they will be removed from their assignments. Manuscripts may also be denied if the authors are unresponsive for an extended period (20 days) or if they use inappropriate or offensive language when communicating with editorial board members or the editorial office of MECS.
Peer review pillars
Collaborative review - Our MTS is comprised of authors, reviewers, and the managing editor (also known as the associate editor for editorial board members and the topic editor for research topics). Editors and reviewers collaborate with authors to enhance a manuscript.
Objective review - MECS encourages the separation of review and evaluation. The editors and reviewers of MECS are tasked with evaluating the quality, rigor, and validity of the study based on objective criteria and ensuring that the results are valid, the analysis is accurate, and the quality is high. We publish every paper deemed legitimate and of high quality. Reviewers may recommend rejection based on objective errors and rejection criteria. Through open post-publication evaluations, an article's significance can be determined.
Rigorous review - MECS provides a review questionnaire template to standardize reviews and concentrate reviewers' efforts on objective issues. The review must concentrate solely on the quality of the research and the manuscript and seek to provide constructive feedback to improve the quality of the final paper. This allows fair, rapid, comprehensive, and comparable assessment of research. The evaluation of the research will be conducted sequentially using article-level impact metrics. In addition, MECS provides authors with the highest quality review service by assigning only the most distinguished researchers in their respective disciplines to its chief and associate editorial boards.
Transparent review - To ensure the most rigorous and objective reviews, reviewers' identities are concealed during the review period. When a manuscript is accepted for publication, the authors of the manuscript can contact the reviewers. If a reviewer recommends rejection or withdraws during any stage of this process, their name will not be disclosed. As a result of this process, reviews are conducted constructively, with editors and reviewers holding a level of accountability and responsibility for the paper by providing rigorous feedback that delivers the highest possible quality publication. Please also note that, as MECS operates a single-blind peer review process, the authors' identities are known to the reviewers.
Efficient review - MECS' publishing platform is custom-built. We offer one of the fastest systems among academic publishers. Our MTS guides authors, reviewers, and editors smoothly through the review process and alerts them when any action is required. This has shortened the average time from submission to final decision to 36 days.
Full peer review rules
All submissions undergo a full peer review.
The full collaborative peer review process is comprised of two phases:
(1) Independent review -During the independent review phase, the reviewers assess the manuscript independently from each other and from the authors, according to a standardized review template. These templates are adapted to each article type.
(2) Interactive review - During the interactive review phase, authors and reviewers can interact with each other through real time comments in MTS. The handling editor control and oversees the review process.
Once a manuscript is submitted, our editorial office conducts a pre-screening for validation of research integrity and quality standards. If a manuscript meets MECS' quality criteria, an editor from the relevant specialty section is invited to handle the manuscript's peer-review process. After a preliminary content check, the editor decides whether to send the manuscript for review or to recommend it for immediate rejection to the specialty chief editor.
In the latter case, the specialty chief editor may confirm the handling editor's recommendation of immediate rejection due to the following reasons:
(1) Objective errors in the methods, applications, or interpretations were identified in the manuscript that prevent further consideration.
(2) Ethical issues were identified in the manuscript that prevent further review or publication.
(3) The manuscript does not fulfill the standards established for the journal to be considered for publication (see full rejection criteria above).
The specialty chief editor may nevertheless override the handling editor's recommendation and decide that the manuscript deserves to be reviewed before a final decision is made. In this case, they will assign the manuscript to a new handling editor for another assessment.
The handling editor invites experts to review the manuscript; most article types require at least two reviewers to complete a review. These reviewers can either be invited from the board of review editors or appropriately recruited among experts in the field.
Handling editors: invitations to reviewers
If a manuscript is sent for peer review, the handling editor is accountable for inviting and overseeing expert reviewers. Most article types require at least two reviewers to complete a review. These reviewers can either be invited from the board of review editors or appropriately recruited among experts in the field.
It is the prerogative of the handling editor to manage the reviewer's recommendations for a manuscript. When the reviewers make their recommendation - to reject, revise, or accept the manuscript – the handling editor must validate this decision in line with our clearly defined acceptance and rejection criteria.
If the handling editor disagrees with the final recommendation of a reviewer, whether it is to reject or accept the manuscript, it is the handling editor who is afforded the right to seek further expert feedback and invite an additional reviewer(s).
MECS remains independent of this process and does not set or seek to influence acceptance or rejection rates. We are confident in the quality of our editors and peer review process, whose proficiency has enabled MECS' open access publications to become one of the most highly cited in the world.
Independent review phase
The reviewers are asked to submit the standardized independent review report via the online collaborative review forum within 14 days after accepting the assignment. Each reviewer performs this independently. The handling editor is automatically notified as soon as each of the reports is submitted, along with the recommendation of that reviewer. If the reviewer recommends acceptance, they can immediately endorse the manuscript and finalize their review.
Once all reviewers have submitted a report, the editor is responsible for activating the next phase, the interactive review, to release the review reports to the authors. If the editor would like to recommend rejection during the independent review phase, they can do so by activating the interactive review phase with major concerns, providing the authors with the reports and a unique opportunity for rebuttal during a defined timeframe.
Interactive review phase
Once the editor activates the interactive review phase, authors are immediately notified and granted access to the collaborative review forum, where they are able to view the reviewers' comments. Authors are asked to respond and/or submit a revised manuscript within 6, 12, or 18 days, depending on the level of revisions requested by the editor. If the authors are unresponsive to multiple communication attempts, the editorial office will send a final email to the authors with a seven-day deadline to respond. Following this, the editorial office reserves the right to withdraw the manuscript from the review process.
The editor can access and post comments in the collaborative peer review process at any time.
If a dispute arises at this stage, the editor acts as a mediator, working with all parties involved to resolve the issues and even inviting new reviewers for further opinions if needed. If the disagreement persists, the specialty chief editor is then invited to enter the interactive review phase, assess the situation, and take a final decision as to whether the review should be ended by rejecting the manuscript or continued – potentially, but not necessarily, with a new handling editor and set of reviewers.
When a disagreement cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of a reviewer, they can choose to recommend rejection of the manuscript. The handling editor is then informed of the rejection recommendation and the reason.
During this phase, a manuscript may be rejected at any point for the following reasons:
(1) Objective errors in the methods, applications, or interpretations were identified in this manuscript that prevent further consideration.
(2) Ethical issues were identified in this manuscript that prevent further review or publication.
(3) The manuscript does not fulfill the standards established for the journal to be considered for publication.
(4) The authors were unable to sufficiently revise the manuscript to address the issues raised by the reviewers or editor during the review process.
Only when the author has satisfactorily addressed all reviewer and editor comments is the review considered complete.
Arbitration triggered by the author
If a dispute arises regarding the rejection of a manuscript, the authors may rebut the decision and trigger and arbitration.
The authors should provide enough information as part of their rebuttal so that an informed decision can be made on whether the grievance is valid. For example, if a rebuttal relates to a lack of ethics approval, the author should provide a letter obtained from the relevant ethics committee as part of the rebuttal. Rebuttals should be factual and constructive. We will not consider rebuttals that contain inappropriate or derogatory language.
As a first step, the editorial office will arbitrate. They may discuss the case with editors and reviewers to try and resolve the dispute, depending on the stage of peer review where rejection occurs and the reasons for rejection. At the discretion of the editorial office, independent experts may also be called for confidential arbitration evaluation. This process can include an assessment of rebuttal validity and/or the peer review process.
Depending on the complexity of the case, authors should expect the arbitration process to take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. While a decision can take a significant amount of time, authors should anticipate receiving updates every 2–5 weeks.
Should an arbitration rule in favor of the authors, the editorial office will consider reinstating a manuscript to the stage where the rejection occurred and/or restarting the peer review process with a newly appointed editor and/or reviewer(s).
A manuscript will remain rejected if the arbitration rules that any of the above rejection criteria are met. While arbitration for a rejected manuscript is ongoing, authors should not submit a revised version of the manuscript.
Arbitration triggered by the reviewer
Reviewers are also entitled to trigger an arbitration if they judge that the authors are reluctant to make the required changes as part of peer review. Reviewers may, of course, recommend rejection at any time or withdraw from the review process if they disagree with the arbitration ruling (in both cases, their identity remains undisclosed). The withdrawal of a reviewer requires the recruitment of a replacement, which slows down the peer review process; therefore, authors are encouraged to cooperate as much as possible in addressing the concerns of the reviewers involved with their manuscript. Should an arbitration rule in favor of the authors, then the manuscript can be accepted even if there was a previous rejection recommendation.
If the reviewers endorse the publication of the manuscript in its current form, they must finalize their review reports, which automatically notifies the handling editor. For acceptance to be considered, the manuscript must:
(1) be valid as defined in the acceptance criteria above.
(2) have an editor and the minimum number of independent reviewers assigned for the article type.
(3) receive the majority of the assigned, non-withdrawn reviewers' approval.
The editor can then either accept the final version of the manuscript or request further changes as necessary, typically within a few days. The handling editor has the authority to decide whether to accept a manuscript; the specialty chief editor does not need to agree.
Acceptance by the handling editor moves the article into the final validation phase, during which MECS' peer review team performs final technical and quality checks, including whether the review was performed adequately. Should the manuscript fail the final checks, it can either be put back into review to address the identified issue(s) or the provisional acceptance decision can be overridden, and the manuscript will be rejected at this stage without publication.
If the minimum required number of reviewers to endorse the manuscript is not met (usually two, and it must be a majority), then the handling editor must recommend to the specialty chief editor that the manuscript be rejected for publication. The final rejection decision is usually made by the specialty chief editor, but it can also be made by the research integrity team based on the rejection criteria above.
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