Focus and Scope

Rethinking Ecology is an open access journal that aims at fostering forward thinking and the publication of novel ideas in ecology. The term ecology in this instance should be understood in the broadest sense, and contributions including (but not limited to) evolution, ecophysiology, environmental sciences, global change biology, human ecology and decision ecology are all welcome. The journal publishes perspectives, research papers, rapid communications, responses, software descriptions and horizon scanning papers with an emphasis on new hypotheses and bold ideas.

As opposed to other journals, perspectives and horizon scanning papers to Rethinking Ecology are not commissioned. We believe that novel ideas and innovative research do not arise from direct invitations and we are committed to enable authors to publish their best work, regardless of their seniority, gender, publication track record and country of origin. Other singularities of the journal include a percentage-based author contribution index that accurately reflects the contribution of each co-author and a double-blind review process where reviewers score manuscripts against well-defined criteria in relation to the type of paper.

There is an urgent need for new ideas, new hypotheses and horizon scanning in ecology, particularly with regards to finding solutions to address critical issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss. Such challenges require bold and potentially controversial thinking. Rethinking Ecology is an opportunity to publish novel ideas and hypotheses prior to fully testing them. Our aim is to encourage scientists to share and discuss their novel ideas with their peers without fear of being scooped. Publishing in Rethinking Ecology will also draw attention from the scientific community, help create research networks, and support grant proposals aiming at putting these novel ideas to the test.

What Can I Publish?

The journal publishes perspectives, research papers, rapid communications, responses, software descriptions and horizon scanning papers with an emphasis on new hypotheses and bold ideas.

  • Perspective papers that propose a new idea, hypothesis or terminology that is well supported conceptually by existing literature.
  • Research papers that are empirical or theoretical studies presenting novel data or analysis that contribute to a better understanding of the topic under scrutiny. The methodology must be described in detail and all necessary information to reproduce the work must be provided for reviewing purpose (e.g. data, codes etc.).
  • Rapid communications that are short research papers which include experimental testing of a new idea or hypothesis. The methodology must be described in detail and all necessary information to reproduce the work must be provided for reviewing purpose (e.g. data, codes etc.).
  • Response papers that complement a recently published paper (either in Rethinking Ecology or in another peer-reviewed journal), by bringing a new idea/hypothesis or by presenting an opposing view/opinion.
  • Software presentations that describe for the first time the scope and basic functions of a software or a significant update to a previously published existing software.
  • Horizon scanning papers that present a forward-looking systematic analysis based on a survey of the latest literature to identify future threats or future areas of growth, inform risk management strategies, and/or provide guidance in research prioritisation (see Sutherland et al. 2009: The need for environmental horizon scanning). These papers must provide clear recommendations about the topic under scrutiny to scientists, practitioners and/or decision makers.

Author Guidelines

The aim of Rethinking Ecology is to encourage scientists to share and discuss their novel ideas with their peers at any stage of the research cycle without fear of being scooped. For example, publishing novel ideas and hypotheses in Rethinking Ecology prior to fully testing them will draw attention from the scientific community, help create research networks, and support grant proposals aiming at putting these novel ideas to the test. 
Submissions should include a letter to the editor and the manuscript as two separate documents. To ensure an efficient double-blind review process, any information susceptible of identifying the authors should only appear in the letter to the editor.

Letter to the editor:
The letter should include:

Authors’ names, affiliation and addresses: Include the full name of all authors and their affiliations (using superscript letters). The corresponding author should be indicated with a superscript star (*). Please provide an email address for every co-author .
Author contribution: Using initials of authors’ names, briefly describe the contribution of each author as well as a percentage contribution. 
E.g.: SB developed the concept and designed the manuscript, MCL revised the manuscript, LW revised the manuscript. SB: 50%, MCL 20%, LW: 30%. 
These percentages will be used to calculate an author contribution index (see ACI section below). Every co-author will be contacted by email and asked to confirm their contribution.
Acknowledgment: include here any contributor who was not listed as an author as well as funding agency or grants which supported the writing of the manuscript.

Manuscript files:
The manuscript should be stripped of any information about the authors and arranged as follows:

Title: A short title.
Abstract: 300 words max. The abstract should clearly state the novelty of the manuscript and how it advances or challenges the current state of knowledge.
Keywords: Up to 5 keywords, which are not present in the title.
Introduction: The introduction should focus on describing the state of knowledge or the knowledge gap that the manuscript addresses. Subsections can be inserted in the Introduction. Titles for further sections and sub sections are free but should remain short as much as possible.

Methods (for Research articles, Rapid communications and Horizon scanning papers): The methodology must be described in detail and all necessary information to reproduce the work must be provided for reviewing purpose (e.g. data, codes etc.). Subsections can be inserted and their titles are free but should remain short as much as possible .

Recommendations (for Horizon scanning papers): Clear recommendations about the topic under scrutiny should be listed in a form that is accessible to scientists, practitioners and/or decision makers.
Reference list: References should be listed in alphabetical order. See papers published in the Journal Nature Conservation for formatting.

Figures/Tables: Each figure and table should be submitted as separate files in high resolution graphic format (EPS, TIFF, JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, SVG). Legends should be included at the end of the manuscript.
Word limit: We recommend that manuscripts remain short (i.e. <3,000 words exclusive of the reference list, figures and tables). It is possible to publish longer pieces, but the standard APC (650 EUR) may have to be adjusted. Please include continuous line numbering throughout the manuscript as well as page numbering to facilitate the review process.
ACI: The author contribution index is a unique feature that provides reader with a metric of the contribution of each co-author. This value will be featured on every papers published in Rethinking Ecology. The index is based on the number of co-authors and the percentage contribution of each author. To decide on percentage contributions, a good starting point is to divide 100% by the number of authors and then estimate whether and to what extent each author provided more or less work than the others. If you are sole author, your percentage contribution is 100%.

Why should you choose to publish with us?

  • There is an urgent need for new ideas, new hypotheses and horizon scanning in ecology, evolution and the environment. This includes finding solutions to address climate change and biodiversity loss.
  • It is almost impossible to publish ground-breaking ideas or new hypotheses without fully testing them first. However, testing these hypotheses takes time and funding, which substantially delays the dissemination of ideas of general interest to the ecological research community.
  • Rethinking Ecology is an opportunity to publish your idea prior to testing it. This will allow you to draw attention and encourage the scientific community to discuss your idea but also attract the necessary funding to put it to the test.
  • Once published in Rethinking Ecology, you will always remain the inventor of the idea, even if it is applied or tested by someone else. No more hesitation about discussing your new idea with your peers by fear of being scooped.
  • Controversial ideas and hypotheses that challenge current thinking are difficult to get published in conventional peer-review journals. Controversy is not a motive of rejection in Rethinking Ecology, nor is your seniority, publication record or country of origin. Although the journal is not specifically aimed at early career researchers, its format makes it more ECR-friendly than many other journals.
  • We use double blind review primarily to avoid conflicts of interest and foster the publication of new ideas (see Beryl Lieff Benderly 2016: How scientific culture discourages new ideas). It is also an incentive to limit self-citation.

Unique features

  • Rethinking Ecology publishes research papers perspectives, rapid communications, responses, software descriptions and horizon scanning papers with an emphasis on new hypotheses and bold ideas.
  • A double blind peer-review system is used to avoid conflicts of interest and limit self-citations.
  • Reviewers provide comments and scores on a set of very specific questions (see peer-review process and criteria for publication below)
  • A percentage based author contribution index is implemented in every publication to establish the true contribution of each co-author and limit ‘guest authorship’ (i.e. inclusion of authors who did not significantly contribute to the work) (see Boyer et al. 2017: Percentage-based Author Contribution Index: a universal measure of author contribution to scientific articles).
  • A proportion of the publication fees (APC) is used to support research in developing countries within the South Pacific region. These funds will be distributed by an independent in-region panel led by the local scientific community.

Materials and Methods

In line with responsible and reproducible research, as well as FAIR (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability and Reusability) data principles, we highly recommend that authors describe in detail and deposit their science methods and laboratory protocols in the open access repository protocols.io.

Once deposited on protocols.io, protocols and methods will be issued a unique digital object identifier (DOI), which could be then used to link a manuscript to the relevant deposited protocol. By doing this, authors could allow for editors and peers to access the protocol when reviewing the submission to significantly expedite the process.  

Furthermore, an author could open up his/her protocol to the public at the click of a button as soon as their article is published.

Stepwise instructions:

  1. Prepare a detailed protocol via protocols.io.

  2. Click Get DOI to assign a persistent identifier to your protocol.

  3. Add the DOI link to the Methods section of your manuscript prior to submitting it for peer review.

  4. Click Publish to make your protocol openly accessible as soon as your article is published (optional).

  5. Update your protocols anytime.

Supplementary Files

Online publishing allows an author to provide datasets, tables, video files, or other information as supplementary information, greatly increasing the impact of the submission. Uploading of such files is possible in Step 6 of the submission process.

The maximum file size for each Supplementary File is 20 MB.

The Supplementary Files will not be displayed in the printed version of the article but will exist as linkable supplementary downloadable files in the online version.

While submitting a supplementary file the following information should be completed:

  • File format (including name and a URL of an appropriate viewer if format is unusual)

  • Title of data

  • Description of data

All supplementary files should be referenced explicitly by file name within the body of the article, e.g. 'See supplementary file 1: Movie 1" for the original data used to perform this analysis.

Ideally, the supplementary files should not be platform-specific, and should be viewable using free or widely available tools. Suitable file formats are:

For supplementary documentation:

  • PDF (Adobe Acrobat)

For animations:

  • SWF (Shockwave Flash)

For movies:

  • MOV (QuickTime)

  • MPG (MPEG)

For datasets:

  • XLS (Excel spreadsheet)

  • CSV (Comma separated values)

  • ODS (OpenOffice spreadsheets)

As for images, file names should be given in the standard file extensions. This is especially important for Macintosh users, since the Mac OS does not enforce the use of standard file extensions. Please also make sure that each additional file is a single table, figure or movie (please do not upload linked worksheets or PDF files larger than one sheet).

Revising your article

Authors must submit the revised version of the manuscript using Track Changes/Comments tools of Word so that the Subject Editor can see the corrections and additions.

Authors must address all critiques of the referees in a response letter to the editor and submit it along with the revised manuscript through the online editorial system. In case a response letter is not submitted by the authors, the editor has the right to reject the manuscript without further evaluation.

Peer-review process and criteria for publication

Upon submission, manuscripts are attributed to an academic editor who will initially screen the manuscript to verify that it meets the scope and specification of the journal. Based on this first assessment, the editor will either send it to two or more reviewers for further consideration or reject the manuscript if it does not meet the journal’s criteria. Reviewers are asked to comment and score manuscripts for the following criteria:

  1. Novelty score (How novel is the idea / the software capabilities?) or Response score for Response papers (does the response present novel and complementary arguments or opposing views to the original paper?)
  2. Feasibility/likelihood/applicability score for Perspective and Response papers (does the idea/hypothesis arise from or is supported by rigorous arguments? Is the idea or hypothesis testable? Is the new concept, term or definition useful?) or Methodology score for Research papers, Rapid communications and Horizon scanning papers (is the methodology used/analysis conducted scientifically sound?) or Utility score for Software description (Is the software responding to a well identified need? Is it likely to be used by the scientific community?)
  3. Scholarship score (the authors demonstrate good knowledge and appropriate use of the current literature)
  4. Literacy score (English, grammar, clarity and logical flow reaches publication standard)


Criterion 1

Criterion 2

Criterion 3

Criterion 4

Responses papers

Response score

Feasibility / likelihood / applicability score

Scholarship score

Literacy score

Perspectives papers

Novelty score

Research papers

Methodology score

Rapid communications

Horizon scanning papers

Software descriptions

Utility score

To ensure a fast peer-review process, we ask reviewers to provide their report within two to three weeks. The editor then takes a decision based on the reviewers’ comments and scoring.

Article Charges

Core Charges

Publication in Rethinking Ecology is FREE of charge for manuscripts submitted by the end of 2018. 

Additional Services (Optional)

Optional service



Linguistic services

€ 15 per 1800 characters

For texts that require additional editing by a native English speaker

Tailored PR campaign

€ 150*

Press release, dedicated media and social networks promotion

Tailored PR campaign + Video interview

€ 450

Video interview organized by the Editorial Office

Paper reprints

At cost

On demand

*This service can be discounted or waived for articles of outstanding importance for the science and society

Writing a Press Release

Pensoft’s experienced PR team puts a lot of effort in the wide dissemination of the works we publish through press releases, news aggregators, blogs, social network communication and the mass media.

It goes without saying that press releases and news stories can have a major effect on the impact and popularity of research findings. Moreover, they are of benefit to all parties involved: the authors, their institutions, funding agencies, publishers and the society in general. Thanks to a well-established dissemination network, Pensoft press releases regularly provide the basis for print, online, radio and TV news stories in reputed international media outlets, including National Geographic, BBC, Sky News, CNN, New York Times, The Guardian, Deutsche Welle, Der Standard, DR, etc.

Here are some examples of Pensoft's press releases, posted on EurekAlert, which have enjoyed high popularity and thousands of views within the first days following their publication:

Our PR team invites you to prepare (or request) a short press release on your accepted paper whenever you find your research of public interest. We have provided a template and instructions to guide you through the specific text format.

While the press release needs to be in English, in case you find it suitable for the promotion of your study, you are welcome to also submit a translation of the press release in the following languages: French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese. Please note that all translations need to be based on the final English version of the press release as approved by our press officers.

We are always happy to promote your research by preparing a press release for you and coordinating our dedicated PR campaigns with the PR offices of our partnering institutions. You are welcome to approach us with your press release drafts or any queries regarding our PR campaign via email at either pressoffice@pensoft.net, or dissemination@pensoft.net.

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General Statement

The journal policies and guidelines are mandatory. Exceptions to elements of the policies may be granted in specific cases, but will require justification that will be made public together with the article.

License and Copyright Agreement

In submitting the manuscript to the journal, the authors certify that:

  • They are authorized by their co-authors to enter into these arrangements.
  • The work described has not been formally published before (except in the form of an abstract or as part of a published lecture, review, thesis, or overlay journal), that it is not under consideration for publication elsewhere, that its publication has been approved by all the author(s) and by the responsible authorities – tacitly or explicitly – of the institutes where the work has been carried out.
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Licensing for Data Publication

Pensoft’s  journals use a variety of waivers and licenses, that are specifically designed for and appropriate for the treatment of data:

Other data publishing licenses may be allowed as exceptions (subject to approval by the editor on a case-by-case basis) and should be justified with a written statement from the author, which will be published with the article.

Open Data and Software Publishing and Sharing

The journal strives to maximize the replicability of the research published in it. Authors are thus required to share all data, code or protocols underlying the research reported in their articles. Exceptions are permitted, but have to be justified in a written public statement accompanying the article.

Datasets and software should be deposited and permanently archived in appropriate, trusted, general, or domain-specific repositories (please consult http://service.re3data.org and/or software repositories such as GitHubGitLabBioinformatics.org, or equivalent). The associated persistent identifiers (e.g. DOI, or others) of the dataset(s) must be included in the data or software resources section of the article. Reference(s) to datasets and software should also be included in the reference list of the article with DOIs (where available). Where no domain-specific data repository exists, authors should deposit their datasets in a general repository such as ZENODO,DryadDataverse, or others.

Small data may also be published as data files or packages supplementary to a research article, however, the authors should prefer in all cases a deposition in data repositories.

Privacy Statement

The names and email addresses present on the journal’s website will be used exclusively for the purposes of the journal.

Author Policies

It is a responsibility of the corresponding author that all named authors have agreed to its submission.

The Corresponding Author’s Role and Responsibilities are to:

  1. Inform all co-authors of the submission of the manuscript to the journal (note: each co-author will receive a confirmation email upon submission and will need to confirm their authorship).
  2. Manage all correspondence between the journal and all co-authors, keeping the full co-author group apprised of the manuscript progress.
  3. Designate a substitute correspondent for times of unavailability.
  4. Ensure payment of the publication charges at the point of Editorial Acceptance, or before that in case some specific services have been purchased (e.g., conversion to ARPHA or linguistic editing).
  5. Ensure that the manuscript is in full adherence with all the journal policies (including such items as publication ethics, data deposition, materials deposition, etc).
  6. Post Publication: Respond to all queries pertaining to the published manuscript, provide data and materials as requested.
  7. The submission must be created (and completed) by one of the co-authors, not by an agency, or by some other individual who is not one of the co-authors.

Commenting Policies

All public comments follow the normal standards of professional discourse. All commenters are named, and their comments are associated to the journal profile. The journal does not allow anonymous or pseudonymous commenting or user profiles.

The journal does not tolerate language that is insulting, inflammatory, obscene or libelous. The journal reserves the right to remove all or parts of Comments to bring them in line with these policies. The journal is the final arbiter as to the suitability of any comments.

Conflicts of Interest

The journal requires that all parties involved in a publication (i.e. the authors, reviewers and academic editors) should transparently declare any potential Conflicts of Interest (also known as Competing Interests). The disclosure of a Conflict of Interest does not necessarily mean that there is an issue to be addressed; it simply ensures that all parties are appropriately informed of any relevant considerations while they work on the submission.

Potential Conflicts of Interest should be declared even if the individual in question feels that these interests do not represent an actual conflict. Examples of Conflicts of Interest include, but are not limited to: possible financial benefits if the manuscript is published; patent activity on the results; consultancy activity around the results; personal material or financial gain (such as free travel, gifts, etc.) relating to the work, and so on.

While possible financial benefits should appear here, actual funding sources (institutional, corporate, grants, etc.) should be detailed in the funding disclosure statement.

Funding Disclosure

The journal requires that authors declare the funding which made their work possible, including funding programmes, projects, or calls for grant proposals (when applicable).

Publication Ethics and Malpractice Statement


Manuscripts submitted to the journal must be original work and is not currently being considered for publication by another journal.

The publishing ethics and malpractice policies of the journal follow the relevant COPE guidelines (http://publicationethics.org/resources/guidelines), and in case a malpractice is suspected, the journal Editors will act in accordance with them.


Research misconduct may include: (a) manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, (b) changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the article.

A special case of misconduct is plagiarism, which is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

If misconduct is suspected, journal Editors will act in accordance with the relevant COPE guidelines: http://publicationethics.org/resources/guidelines.

Should a comment on potential misconduct be submitted by the Reviewers or Editors, an explanation will be sought from the Authors. If this is satisfactory, and a mistake or misunderstanding has taken place, the matter can be resolved. If not, the manuscript will be rejected, and the Editors will impose a ban on that individual's publication in the journal for a period of three years.

In cases of published plagiarism or dual publication, an announcement will be made in the journal, explaining the situation.

Appeals and Open Debate

We encourage academic debate and constructive criticism. Authors do not have a right to neglect unfavourable comments about their work and to choose not to respond to criticisms.

No Reviewer’s comment or published correspondence may contain a personal attack on any of the Authors. Criticism of the work is encouraged, and Editors should edit (or reject) personal or offensive statements.

The Author(s) should submit their appeal on editorial decisions to the Editorial Office.

The journal encourages publication of open opinions, forum papers, corrigenda, critical comments on a published paper and Author’s response to criticism.


The journal reserves the right to retract articles that are found to be fraudulent or in breach of the journal’s policies.

Open Access Policy

This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

Terms of Use

This document describes the Terms of Use of the services provided by the Rethinking Ecology journal, hereinafter referred to as "the Journal" or "this Journal". All Users agree to these Terms of Use when signing up to this Journal. Signed Journal Users will be hereinafter referred to as "User" or "Users".

The publication services to the Journal are provided by Pensoft Publishers Ltd., through its publishing platform ARPHA, hereinafter referred to as "the Provider".

The Provider reserves the right to update the Terms of Use occasionally. Users will be notified via posting on the site and/or by email. If using the services of the Journal after such notice, the User will be deemed to have accepted the proposed modifications. If the User disagrees with the modifications, he/she should stop using the Journal services. Users are advised to periodically check the Terms of Use for updates or revisions. Violation of any of the terms will result in the termination of the User's account. The Provider is not responsible for any content posted by the User in the Journal.

Account Terms

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Neither Pensoft and its affiliates nor any of their respective employees, agents, third party content providers or licensors warrant that the Journal service will be uninterrupted or error-free; nor do they give any warranty as to the results that may be obtained from use of the journal, or as to the accuracy or reliability of any information, service or merchandise provided through Journal.

Legal, medical, and health-related information located, identified or obtained through the use of the Service, is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for qualified advice from a professional.

In no event will the Provider, or any person or entity involved in creating, producing or distributing Journal or the contents included therein, be liable in contract, in tort (including for its own negligence) or under any other legal theory (including strict liability) for any damages, including, but without limitation to, direct, indirect, incidental, special, punitive, consequential or similar damages, including, but without limitation to, lost profits or revenues, loss of use or similar economic loss, arising from the use of or inability to use the journal platform. The User hereby acknowledges that the provisions of this section will apply to all use of the content on Journal. Applicable law may not allow the limitation or exclusion of liability or incidental or consequential damages, so the above limitation or exclusion may not apply to the User. In no event will Pensoft’s total liability to the User for all damages, losses or causes of action, whether in contract, tort (including own negligence) or under any other legal theory (including strict liability), exceed the amount paid by the User, if any, for accessing Journal.

Third Party Content

The Provider is solely a distributor (and not a publisher) of SOME of the content supplied by third parties and Users of the Journal. Any opinions, advice, statements, services, offers, or other information or content expressed or made available by third parties, including information providers and Users, are those of the respective author(s) or distributor(s) and not of the Provider.