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 that aim to put these novel ideas to the test. To ensure an efficient double-blind review process, any information with the potential to identify the authors should only appear in the letter to the editor, not in the manuscript or supporting information.

Letter to the editor:
The letter should be saved as a separate document from the manuscript. The letter is not seen by reviewers. It 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 the authors’ initials, 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.
Acknowledgments: Briefly list any contributor who was not listed as an author. List funding from any agency or grant that supported the work.

Manuscript file:

The manuscript should be stripped of any information about the authors. The standard manuscript sections (Introduction, Methods, Results, etc.) are not required for every paper, but below are general guidelines for each section. All sections may contain subheadings and sub-subheadings.

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 key words that 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.

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. Please see additional information on uploading scientific protocols below under "Materials and Methods".

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.

Citations in the text

Before submitting the manuscript, please check each citation in the text against the References list (and vice-versa) to ensure that they match exactly.

Citations in the text should be formatted as follows:

One author: Smith (1990) or (Smith 1990)

Two authors: Brock and Gunderson (2001) or (Brock and Gunderson 2001)

Three or more authors: Smith et al. (1998) or (Smith et al. 1998)

A citation’s format depends on how it is incorporated in the text:


  1. According to Smith (1990), these findings…
  2. These findings have been first reported in the beginning of the nineties (Smith 1990).

When citing more than one source, in-text citations should be ordered by the year of publication, starting with the earliest one:

(Smith et al. 1998, 2000, 2016; Brock and Gunderson 2001; Felt 2006).

When you have a few citations from the same author but from different years (such as the case with Smith et al. above), the first year is taken into consideration when ordering the sources (in this case 1998, which is why the three references for Smith et al. come first in the list).

When two or more citations are identical (e.g. more than one citation with the same year and authors, the references are distinguished by adding the letters 'a', 'b', 'c', etc. after the years. These letters appear in both the in-text citations and in the references list:

(Reyes-Velasco et al. 2018a, Reyes-Velasco et al. 2018b)

Authorship references for species should include a comma (",") between author and year:

Brianmyia stuckenbergi Woodley, 2012.

Reference list format: It is important to format the references properly because references will be linked electronically to the papers cited. It is desirable to add a DOI (digital object identifier) in addition to the volume and page numbers. If a DOI is lacking, we recommend you add a link to an online source of the article, preferably via the library or journal subscription pages, or through large international archives, indexes and aggregators, e.g., PubMedCentral, Scopus, CAB Abstracts, etc. URLs for articles posted on personal websites should be avoided.

Please use the following style for the reference list (or download the Pensoft EndNote style): here.

Published papers:
Polaszek A, Alonso-Zarazaga M, Bouchet P, Brothers DJ, Evenhuis NL, Krell FT, Lyal CHC, Minelli A, Pyle RL, Robinson N, Thompson FC, van Tol J (2005) ZooBank: the open-access register for zoological taxonomy: Technical Discussion Paper. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 62: 210-220.

Accepted papers:
Same as above, but ''in press'' appears instead of the year in parentheses.

Electronic journal articles:
Mallet J, Willmott K (2002) Taxonomy: renaissance or Tower of Babel? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18 (2): 57-59. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0169-5347(02)00061-7.

Paper within conference proceedings:
Orr AG (2006) Odonata in Bornean tropical rain forest formations: Diversity, endemicity and applications for conservation management. In: Cordero Rivera A (Ed.) Forest and Dragonflies. Fourth WDA International Symposium of Odonatology, Pontevedra (Spain), July 2005. Pensoft Publishers, Sofia-Moscow, 51-78.

Book chapters:
Mayr E (2000) The biological species concept. In: Wheeler QD, Meier R (Eds) Species Concepts and Phylogenetic Theory: A Debate. Columbia University Press, New York, 17-29.

Goix N, Klimaszewski J (2007) Catalogue of Aleocharine Rove Beetles of Canada and Alaska. Pensoft Publishers, Sofia-Moscow, 166 pp.

Book with institutional author:
International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (1999) International code of zoological nomenclature. Fourth Edition. London: The International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature.

PhD thesis:
Dalebout ML (2002) Species identity, genetic diversity and molecular systematic relationships among the Ziphiidae (beaked whales). PhD thesis, Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland.

BBC News: Island leopard deemed new species http://news.bbc.co.uk/

Citations of public resource databases: It is highly recommended all appropriate datasets, images, and information to be deposited in public resources. Please provide the relevant accession numbers (and version numbers, if appropriate). Accession numbers should be provided in parentheses after the entity on first use. Examples of such databases include, but are not limited to:

Providing accession numbers to data records stored in global data aggregators allows us to link your article to established databases, thus integrating it with a broader collection of scientific information. Please hyperlink all accession numbers through the text or list them directly after the References in the online submission manuscript.

All journal titles should be spelled out completely and should NOT be italicized.

Provide the publisher's name and location when you cite symposia or conference proceedings; distinguish between the conference date and the publication date if both are given. Do not list abstracts or unpublished material in the References. They should be quoted in the text as personal observations, personal communications, or unpublished data, specifying the exact source, with date, if possible. Authors are encouraged to cite in the References list the publications of the original descriptions of the taxa treated in their manuscript.

Reference list orderAll references should be ordered alphabetically. If the references have the same first author and a varying number of co-authors, the ordering should be based on the number of co-authors starting with the lowest as follows:

Smith J (2018) Article Title. Journal Name 1: 1-10. https://doi.org/10.3897

Smith J, Gunderson A (2017) Article Title. Journal Name 1: 10-20. https://doi.org/10.3897 

Smith J, Gunderson A, Brock B (2015) Article Title. Journal Name 1: 20-30. https://doi.org/10.3897

In the occasion of more than one article from the same first author within any of the categories above, the references should be ordered chronologically.

If both the first author and year of publication match within the categories above, the references are distinguished by adding the letters 'a', 'b', 'c', etc. after the year of publication and this marking is followed in the in-text citations, respectively.  


Each figure and table should be submitted as separate files in high resolution graphic format (EPS, TIFF, JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, SVG), not larger than 20 MB each. Low-resolution figures should also be included in the manuscript close to where they are first referenced. Legends should be included below each figure.

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 article processing charge (550 EUR) may have to be adjusted if manuscripts exceed 40 pages.

Numbering: Please include continuous line numbering throughout the manuscript as well as page numbering to facilitate the review process.

ACI: The author contribution index (ACI) is a unique feature that provides reader with a metric of the contribution of each co-author (for more information, see Boyer et al. 2017: Percentage-based Author Contribution Index: a universal measure of author contribution to scientific articles. 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%.​​​​​

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 scientific methods and laboratory protocols in the open access repository protocols.io.

Once deposited on protocols.io, protocols and methods will be issued a unique 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.

When 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 include:

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)

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.

Revising your article

Authors must submit the revised version of the manuscript using the 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. If a response letter is not submitted by the authors, the editor has the right to reject the manuscript without further evaluation.

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. Publishing eliminates the hesitation to discuss a new idea with your peers for 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 (ECR), 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 bias and conflicts of interest and to 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 (ACI) 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 article processing charge (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.

Data Publishing Guidelines

Pensoft strongly encourages and supports various strategies and methods for data publication. The preferable way is to store data in internationally recognised data repositories and link back to the data set(s) in the respective article. Data can also be published as supplementary files to the articles, however this should be an exception rather than a rule (see How to publish data). The key to discover, use and cite your data is to include the data references in the reference lists of the articles and always include the DOIs of the data sets, when available, in the citation record. You may read more about this in How to cite data section of the article below. A good example of concise data citation guidelines using DOIs is also available on the GBIF website and on other data repositories.

For biodiversity and biodiversity-related data the reader may consult the Strategies and guidelines for scholarly publishing of biodiversity data (Penev et al. 2017, Research Ideas and Outcomes 3: e12431. https://doi.org/10.3897/rio.3.e12431). For reader's convenience, we list here the hyperlinked table of contents of these extensive guidelines:

The core of the data publishing project of Pensoft is the concept of "Data Paper" developed in a cooperation with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Data Papers are peer-reviewed scholarly publications that describe the published datasets and provide an opportunity to data authors to receive the academic credit for their efforts. Currently, Pensoft offers the opportunity to publish Data Papers describing occurrence data and checklists, Barcode-of-Life genome data and biodiversity-related software tools, such as interactive keys and others.

Examples of data papers

Antarctic, Sub-Antarctic and cold temperate echinoid database
A dataset from bottom trawl survey around Taiwan
Project Description: DNA Barcodes of Bird Species in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, USA
Literature based species occurrence data of birds of northeast India
MOSCHweb — a matrix-based interactive key to the genera of the Palaearctic Tachinidae (Insecta, Diptera)
Amundsen Sea Mollusca from the BIOPEARL II expedition
Iberian Odonata distribution: data of the BOS Arthropod Collection (University of Oviedo, Spain
FORMIDABEL: The Belgian Ants Database
Circumpolar dataset of sequenced specimens of Promachocrinus kerguelensis (Echinodermata, Crinoidea)

Florabank1: a grid-based database on vascular plant distribution in the northern part of Belgium (Flanders and the Brussels Capital region)
Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN): a community contributed taxonomic checklist of all vascular plants of Canada, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Greenland
Herbarium of Vascular Plants Collection of the University of Extremadura (Spain)

Nature Conservation:
Antarctic macrobenthic communities: A compilation of circumpolar information

Press releases on data papers
New incentive for biodiversity data publishing
Data publishing policies and guidelines for biodiversity data by Pensoft
First database-derived 'data paper' published in journal
A new type of data papers designed to publish online interactive keys
Data paper describes Antarctic biodiversity data gathered by 90 expeditions since 1956
Unique information on Belgian ants compiled and published through FORMIDABEL data paper
Database simplifies finding Canadian plant names and distribution
A synthesis of the 36451 specimens from the UNEX Herbarium in a new data paper

Data Quality Checklist and Recommendations


An empowering aspect of digital data is that they can be merged, reformatted and reused for new, imaginative uses that are more than the sum of their parts. However, this is only possible if data are well curated. To help authors avoid some common mistakes we have created this document to highlight those aspects of data that should be checked before publication.

By "mistakes" we do not mean errors of fact, although these should also be avoided! It is possible to have entirely correct digital data that are low-quality because they are badly structured or formatted, and, therefore, hard or impossible to move from one digital application to another. The next reader of your digital data is likely to be a computer program, not a human. It is essential that your data are structured and formatted so that they are easily processed by that program, and by other programs in the pipeline between you and the next human user of your data.

The following list of recommendations will help you maximise the re-usability of your digital data. Each represents a test carried out by Pensoft when auditing a digital dataset at the request of an author. Following the list, we provide explanations and examples of each recommendation.

Authors are encouraged to perform these checks themselves prior to data publication. For text data, a good text editor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_text_editors) can be used to find and correct most problems. Spreadsheets usually have some functions for text checking functions, e.g. the "TRIM" function that removes unneeded whitespace from a data item. The most powerful text-checking tools are on the command line, and the website "A Data Cleaner's Cookbook" (https://www.polydesmida.info/cookbook/) is recommended for authors who can use a BASH shell.

When auditing datasets for authors, Pensoft does not check taxonomic or bibliographic details for correctness, but we will do basic geochecks upon request, e.g. test to see if the stated locality is actually at or near the stated latitude/longitude. We also recommend checking that fields do not show "domain schizophrenia", i.e. fields misused to containing data of more than one type.

Proofreading data takes at least as much time and skill as proofreading text. Just as with text, mistakes easily creep into data files unless the files are carefully checked. To avoid the embarrassment of publishing data with such mistakes, we strongly recommend that you take the time to run these basic tests on your data.





- The dataset is UTF-8 encoded

- The only characters used that are not numbers, letters or standard punctuation, are tabs and whitespaces

- Each character has only one encoding in the dataset

- No line breaks within data items

- No field-separating character within data items (tab-separated data preferred)

- No "?" or replacement characters in place of valid characters

- No Windows carriage returns

- No leading, trailing, duplicated or unnecessary whitespaces in individual data items



- No broken records, i.e. records with too few or too many fields

- No blank records

- No duplicate records (as defined by context)



- No empty fields

- No evident truncation of data items

- No unmatched braces within data items

- No data items with values that are evidently invalid or inappropriate for the given field

- Repeated data items are consistently formatted

- Standard data items such as dates and latitude/longitude are consistently formatted

- No evident disagreement between fields

- No unexpectedly missing data





  • The dataset is UTF-8 encoded

Computer programs do not "read" characters like "A" and "4". Instead, they read strings of 0's and 1's and interpret these strings as characters according to an encoding scheme. The most universal encoding scheme is called UTF-8 and is based on the character set called Unicode. Text data should always be shared with UTF-8 encoding, as errors can be generated when non-UTF-8 encodings (such as Windows-1252) are read by a program expecting UTF-8, and vice-versa. (See also below, on replacement characters). 

  • The only characters used that are not numbers, letters or standard punctuation are tabs and whitespaces

Unusual characters sometimes appear in datasets, especially when databases have been merged. These "control" or "gremlin" characters are sometimes invisible when data are viewed within a particular application (such as a spreadsheet or a database browser) but can usually be revealed when the data are displayed in a text editor. Examples include vertical tab, soft hyphen, non-breaking space and various ASCII control characters (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_character).

  • Each character has only one encoding in the dataset

We have seen individual datasets in which the degree symbol (°) is represented in three different ways, and in which a single quotation mark (') is also represented as a prime symbol, a right single quotation mark and a grave accent. Always use one form of each character, and preferably the simplest form, e.g. plain quotes rather than curly quotes.

  • No line breaks within data items

Spreadsheet and database programs often allow users to have more than one line of text within a data item, separated by linebreaks or carriage returns. When these records are processed, many computer programs understand the embedded linebreak as the end of a record, so that the record is processed as several incomplete records:

item A  itemB1          itemC



itemA           itemB1

itemB2          itemC

  • No field-separating character within data items (tab-separated data preferred)

Data are most often compiled in table form, with a particular character used to separate one field ("column") from the next. Depending on the computer program used, the field-separating character might be a comma (CSV files), a tab (TSV files), a semicolon, a pipe (|) etc.

Well-structured data keeps the field-separating character out of data items, to avoid confusion in processing. Because commas are commonly present within data items, and because not all programs understand how to process CSVs, we recommend using tabs as field-separating characters (and avoiding tabs within data items!): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tab-separated_values.

  • No "?" or replacement characters in place of valid characters

When text data are moved between different character encodings, certain characters can be lost because the receiving program does not understand what the sending program is referring to. In most cases, the lost character is then represented by a question mark, as in "Duméril" becoming "Dum?ril", or by a replacement character, usually a dark polygon with a white question mark inside.

It is important to check for these replacements before publishing data, especially if you converted your data to UTF-8 encoding from another encoding.

  • No Windows carriage returns

On UNIX, Linux and Mac computers, a linebreak is built with just one character, the UNIX linefeed '\n' ('LF'). On Windows computers, a linebreak is created using two characters, one after the other: '\r\n' ('CRLF'), where '\r' is called a 'carriage return' ('CR'). Carriage returns are not necessary in digital data and can cause problems in data processing on non-Windows computers. Check the documentation of the program in which you are compiling data to learn how to remove Windows carriage returns.

  • No leading, trailing, duplicated or unnecessary whitespaces in individual data items

Like "control" and "gremlin" characters, whitespaces are invisible and we pay little attention to them when reading a line of text. Computer programs, however, see whitespaces as characters with the same importance as "A" and "4". For this reason, the following four lines are different and should be edited to make them the same:

Aus bus (Smith, 1900)

   Aus bus (Smith, 1900)

Aus bus (Smith,   1900)

Aus  bus   (Smith, 1900  )



  • No broken records, i.e. records with too few or too many fields

If a data table contains records with, for example, 25 fields, then every record in the table should have exactly 25 data items, even if those items are empty. Records with too few fields are often the result of a linebreak or field separator within a data item (see above). Records with too many fields also sometimes appear when part of a record has been moved in a spreadsheet past the end of the table.

  • No blank records

Blank records contribute nothing to a data table because they contain no information, and a tidy data table has no blank lines. Note, however, that a computer program looking for blank lines may not find what looks to a human like a blank line, because the "blank" line actually contains invisible tabs or whitespaces.

  • No duplicate records (as defined by context)

It can be difficult to find duplicate records in some datasets, but our experience is that they are not uncommon. One cause of duplicates is database software assigning a unique ID number to the same line of data more than once. Context will determine whether one record is a duplicate of another, and data compilers are best qualified to look for them.



  • No empty fields

 Fields containing no data items do not add anything to the information content of a dataset and should be omitted.

  •  No evident truncation of data items

The end of a data item is sometimes cut off, for example when a data item with 55 characters is entered into a database field with a 50-character maximum limit. Truncated data items should be repaired when found, e.g.

Smith & Jones in Smith, Jones and Bro

repaired to:

Smith & Jones in Smith, Jones and Brown, 1974

  • No unmatched braces within data items

These are surprisingly common in datasets and are either data entry errors or truncations, e.g.

Smith, A. (1900 A new species of Aus. Zool. Anz. 23: 660-667.

5 km W of Traralgon (Vic

  • No data items with values that are evidently invalid or inappropriate for the given field

For example, a field labelled "Year" and containing years should not contain the data item "3 males".

  •  Repeated data items are consistently formatted

The same data item should not vary in format within a single dataset, e.g.

Smith, A. (1900) A new species of Aus. Zool. Anz. 23: 660-667.

Smith, A. 1900. A new species of Aus. Zoologischer Anzeiger 23: 660-667.

Smith, A. (1900) A new species of Aus. Zool. Anz. 23, 660-667, pl. ix.

  • Standard data items such as dates and latitude/longitude are consistently formatted

Data compilers have a number of choices when formatting standard data items, but whichever format is chosen, it should be used consistently. A single date field should not, for example, have dates represented as 2005-05-17, May 19, 2005 and 23.v.2005.

  • No evident disagreement between fields

If there are fields which contain linked information then these fields should be checked to ensure that they do not conflict with each other. For example, the year or an observation cannot be after the year it was published.


Year            Citation

1968            Smith, A. (1966) Polychaete anatomy. Academic Press, New York; 396 pp.


Genus           Subgenus

Aus             Bus (Aus)

  • No unexpectedly missing data

This is a rare issue in datasets that have been audited, but occasionally occurs. An example is the Darwin Core "verbatimLocality" field for a record containing a full latitude and longitude, but with the "decimalLatitude" and "decimalLongitude" fields blank.

  • Spelling of Darwin Core terms

Darwin Core terms are usually considered case sensitive, therefore you should use their correct spelling (http://rs.tdwg.org/dwc/).


We thank Dr. Robert Mesibov for preparing the Data Quality Checklist draft and Dr. Quentin Groom for reviewing it.

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

We believe open access is essential to the dissemination of scientific research. However, in the current publication model, the relationship between research funds and open access journals only goes in one direction. Rethinking Ecology proposes a more sustainable publishing model where article publication charges (APC) are kept affordable (550 EUR) and a proportion of the APC (100 EUR) is dedicated to funding research and supporting researchers in developing countries. Through this unique feature, Rethinking Ecology will directly foster and build scientific activity. We chose developing countries in the South Pacific Region as our primary beneficiary, an area within the Oceania Biodiversity Hotspot. Funds will be distributed by an independent in-region panel led by the local scientific community.

Core services included in our Article Processing Charges:

  • Online submission and editorial management system, professional peer review and editorial assistance.
  • Personal attitude, technical support and fast reply to any inquiry coming from authors, editors or reviewers.
  • Automated email notification and alert system to save you time from tracking the progress of your manuscript.
  • Automated registration of peer reviews at Publons.
  • Copy-editing, technical editing, typesetting and proofreading services.
  • Publication in 3 digital formats: semantically enhanced HTML, PDF and machine-readable JATS XML.
  • Rapid publication process, normally within 1-2 weeks time after a manuscript is accepted for publication.
  • Full-color (no extra-charges for color), high-resolution hardcopy of reprints or whole issues.
  • Advanced data publishing workflows. 
  • Semantic Web enhancements to the article text. 
  • Markup and visualization of all biological taxon names and taxon treatments in your work, if present.
  • Immediate free access to the article on the day of publication.
  • Copyright retained by the authors, articles distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 license.
  • Active dissemination and promotion through social bookmarking tools and social media.
  • Automated email acknowledgements to editors and reviewers upon publication.
  • Automated alert service through email and RSS on the day of publication. 
  • Registration of all new taxa in ZooBank, IPNI, MycoBank or Index Fungorum (where relevant).
  • Export and display of taxon treatments to Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), Plazi, Species-ID, Globalnames, and other aggregators (where relevant).
  • Immediate distribution of your publication to scientific databases, indices and search engines (Web of Science, Scopus, Google Scholar, CAB Abstracts, DOAJ Content and others).
  • Archiving in international repositories (PubMedCentral, CLOCKSS, Zenodo).
  • Bibliography search and discovery tool. 
  • Citation export in various formats.
  • Cited-by records statistics and display.
  • Article- and sub-article-level metrics (Altmetric, Dimensions, number of downloads separately for the PDF, XML and HTML, usage stats for figures, tables and supplementary files).

Please note that the charges below are applicable for all manuscripts submitted after 1st of February 2019. Innovative papers and reviews of special importance for science are to be priced by agreement.

Article size

Article Processing Charges

1 – 40 published pages€  550
41 – 300 published pages€  15 / page (for each page above 40)
301 and more published pagesBy agreement
*Corrigendum€ 100 

    Please note that the above prices do not include VAT (Value Added Tax). VAT is applicable only for VAT NON-registered customers based within the European Union.

    Guidelines for Chinese authors:

    中国作者支付ZooKeys 出版费的一点建议
    1. 通过具有国际支付功能的信用卡支付:国内银行信用卡宣称有国际支付功能
    付ZooKeys 出版费。办理花旗银行礼享卡(美元信用卡),可在网上申请。网址是:
    2. 通过贝宝 paypal 支付:在贝宝官网https://www.paypal.com/建立个人账户。
    有银联卡的人都可以注册,注册之后即可支付低于1000 美元的支付。支付高于1000
    美元,需要和贝宝公司联系,获得授权后也可支付。如ZooKeys 未提供paypal 的
    3. 到银行柜台支付:咨询当地银行可否办理,一般中国银行中心支行都可以办
    理。注意这种方法不仅费时较多,还收取人民币200 元以上的手续费,而且款项到


    Discounts and Waivers

    Authors can apply for discount or waiver during manuscript submission if they comply with the conditions listed below. The journal will not consider requests made during the review process or after acceptance. Formal letters to the editors will not be considered outside the application process during manuscript submission.

    • Discount of 10 % is offered to:
      • Scientists working privately, not affiliated with an institution.
      • Graduate and PhD students if they are first authors of a manuscript. 
      • Scientists living and working in lower middle-income countries (http://data.worldbank.org/income-level/lower-middle-income) if they are sole authors of a manuscript, or authors' research is funded primarily (50% or more of the work contained within the article) by an institution or organization from the eligible countries. 
      • Discounts are also offered to our editors and reviewers, for more information see here
    • Waivers (once per year per (co-) author for manuscripts no larger than 10 printed pages, or for the first 10 pages of a larger manuscript) are offered to:
      • Retired scientists who are editors or active reviewers for this journal (1-3 reviews provided in the year before the manuscript submission). 
      • Scientists living and working in low-income countries (http://data.worldbank.org/income-level/low-income), if they are sole authors of a manuscript, or authors' research is funded primarily (50% or more of the work contained within the article) by an institution or organization from the eligible countries.

    The journal offers also various institutional programs and membership plans to support Open Access scientific publishing. To be eligible, the author must be a corresponding author affiliated with the institution or agency.

    Discounts and waivers do not accumulate.

    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

    Please note that the above prices do not include VAT (Value Added Tax). VAT is applicable only for VAT NON-registered customers based within the European Union.

    Science Communication

    Authors are welcome to join forces with Pensoft’s and ARPHA’s PR team to communicate and promote their research papers, thereby further increasing the visibility and impact of their work.

    While we use our journal’s social media channels (e.g. Twitter and Facebook) to post hand-crafted social media content for each article upon its publication, we offer a range of PR services in order to communicate especially significant scientific findings to a wider audience, such as: Custom social media content, Tailored PR campaign* and Guest blog post (details below).

    Please contact our PR department at dissemination@pensoft.net and pressoffice@pensoft.net to discuss the most suitable approach for your research. We look forward to hearing details about your study and why it should be considered of public interest.


    Custom social media content (Free service)

    Authors are welcome to propose custom social media content to be distributed via the journal’s social media channels, regardless of whether they have already sought any other of our science communication services.

     Social media posts are expected to:

    • Be up to two sentences long or 280 characters (including links) for Twitter;

    • Be written in a conversational tone;

    • Contain minimal jargon;

    • Include the DOI link of the article;

    • Provide additional information about the study, which is not immediately evident in the text of the article (i.e. the post should not duplicate the title or the abstract);

    • Include attractive non-copyright imagery.

    To further increase the outreach of the posts, we strongly suggest that you also send us up to 10 social media accounts (e.g. co-authors, affiliations, funding bodies etc.), relevant to the study.

    Please note that our PR team reserves the right to edit your text at our discretion.

    To request our Custom social media content service, contact our PR department at dissemination@pensoft.net and pressoffice@pensoft.net.


    Tailored PR campaign (Paid service*)

    • Press release issued via the global science news service Eurekalert! and others (e.g. CORDIS), where appropriate;

    • News announcement personally advertised to our own contacts from the world’s top-tier news media;

    • News announcement disseminated via the journal’s and Pensoft’s social media channels;

    • Blog post issued on Pensoft’s blog (based on the announcement OR written by the author);

    • Additional social media content distributed via the journal’s and Pensoft’s channels;

    • Tracking and sharing of third-party users’ online content concerning the study.

    To ensure that we cover all key findings in our announcements, we encourage authors to prepare a brief press release draft using the template and guidelines provided.

    Please note that our PR team reserves the right to edit your text at our discretion. No press announcements will be issued until we receive the author’s final approval to do so. The Tailored PR campaign service is only available for studies published within the past 3 months.

    To request our Tailored PR campaign service, contact our PR department at dissemination@pensoft.net and pressoffice@pensoft.net. Alternatively, select the service upon submitting your manuscript and we will be in touch once your paper is accepted for publication.

    *The Tailored PR campaign is a paid extra service charged at EUR 150. However, we would be happy to consider discounts and even full waivers for studies of particular interest for science and society.



    Pensoft’s PR campaigns regularly make the headlines in top-tier media. Below, you can find examples associated with studies from across our journal portfolio:


    Guest blog post (Free service)

    • Blog post written by the author of the study and issued on Pensoft’s blog;

    • Blog post disseminated via the journal’s and Pensoft’s social media channels;

    • Additional social media content distributed via the journal’s and Pensoft’s channels;

    • Tracking and sharing of third-party users’ online content concerning the study.

    Blog post drafts are expected to:

    • Be written in free-text format;

    • Be written from the author’s own point of view, using conversational tone and minimal jargon;

    • Include at least one commentary quote from an author or a person relevant to the study;

    • Present some curious background information, meant to place the discovery in the right context;

    • Include attractive non-copyright imagery, featuring author attribution.

    Guest blog posts are not necessarily associated with studies published in a set time period, as long as their content remains relevant.

    Please note that our PR team reserves the right to edit your text at our discretion. No blog posts will be issued until we receive the author’s final approval to do so.

    To request our Guest blog post service, contact our PR department at dissemination@pensoft.net and pressoffice@pensoft.net.



    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.
    • They secure the right to reproduce any material that has already been published or copyrighted elsewhere.
    • They agree to the following license and copyright agreement:


    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).

    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.

    Publication Ethics and Malpractice Statement


    The publishing ethics and malpractice policies follow the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing (joint statement by COPE, DOAJ, WAME, and OASPA), the NISO Recommended Practices for the Presentation and Identification of E-Journals (PIE-J), and, where relevant, the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals from ICMJE.

    Privacy statement

    The personal information used on this website is to be used exclusively for the stated purposes of each particular journal. It will not be made available for any other purpose or to any other party. 

    Open access

    Pensoft and ARPHA-hosted journals adhere strictly to gold open access to accelerate the barrier-free dissemination of scientific knowledge. All published articles are made freely available to read, download, and distribute immediately upon publication, given that the original source and authors are cited (Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0)).

    Open data publishing and sharing

    Pensoft and ARPHA encourage open data publication and sharing, in accordance with Panton’s Principles and FAIR Data Principles. For the domain of biodiversity-related publications Pensoft has specially developed extended Data Publishing Policies and Guidelines for Biodiversity Data. Specific data publishing guidelines are available on the journal website. 

    Data can be published in various ways, such as preservation in data repositories linked to the respective article or as data files or packages supplementary to the article. Datasets should be deposited in an appropriate, trusted repository and the associated identifier (URL or DOI) of the dataset(s) must be included in the data resources section of the article. Reference(s) to datasets should also be included in the reference list of the article with DOIs (where available). Where no discipline-specific data repository exists authors should deposit their datasets in a general repository such as, for example Zenodo or others. 

    Submission, peer review and editorial process

    The peer review and editorial processes are facilitated through an online editorial system and a set of email notifications. Pensoft journals’ websites display stepwise description of the editorial process and list all necessary instructions and links. These links are also included in the respective email notification.

    General: Publication and authorship

    • All submitted papers are subject to a rigorous peer review process by at least two international reviewers who are experts in the scientific field of the particular paper. 

    • The factors that are taken into account in review are relevance, soundness, significance, originality, readability and language. 

    • The journals allow a maximum of two rounds of review of a manuscript. The ultimate responsibility for editorial decisions lies with the respective Subject Editor and, in some cases, with the Editor-in-Chief. All appeals should be directed to the Editor-in-Chief, who may decide to seek advice among the Subject Editors and Reviewers.

    • The possible decisions include: (1) Accept, (2) Minor revisions, (2) Major revisions, (3) Reject, but re-submission encouraged and (5) Reject. 

    • If Authors are encouraged to revise and re-submit a submission, there is no guarantee that the revised submission will be accepted. 

    • The paper acceptance is constrained by such legal requirements as shall then be in force regarding libel, copyright infringement and plagiarism. 

    • No research can be included in more than one publication.

    Responsibility of Authors

    • Authors are required to agree that their paper will be published in open access under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0) license.

    • Authors must certify that their manuscripts are their original work. 

    • Authors must certify that the manuscript has not previously been published elsewhere. 

    • Authors must certify that the manuscript is not currently being considered for publication elsewhere. 

    • Authors should submit the manuscript in linguistically and grammatically correct English and formatted in accordance with the journal’s Author Guidelines.

    • Authors must participate in the peer review process. 

    • Authors are obliged to provide retractions or corrections of mistakes. 

    • All Authors mentioned are expected to have significantly contributed to the research. 

    • Authors must notify the Editors of any conflicts of interest. 

    • Authors must identify all sources used in the creation of their manuscript. 

    • Authors must report any errors they discover in their published paper to the Editors.

    • Authors should acknowledge all significant funders of the research pertaining to their article and list all relevant competing interests.   

    • Other sources of support for publications should also be clearly identified in the manuscript, usually in an acknowledgement (e.g. funding for the article processing charge; language editing or editorial assistance).

    • The Corresponding author should provide the declaration of any conflicts of interest on behalf of all Authors. Conflicts of interest may be associated with employment, sources of funding, personal financial interests, membership of relevant organisations or others.

    Responsibility of Reviewers

    • The manuscripts will be reviewed by two or three experts in order to reach first decision as soon as possible. Reviewers do not need to sign their reports but are welcome to do so. They are also asked to declare any conflicts of interests.

    • Reviewers are not expected to provide a thorough linguistic editing or copyediting of a manuscript, but to focus on its scientific quality, as well as for the overall style, which should correspond to the good practices in clear and concise academic writing. If Reviewers recognize that a manuscript requires linguistic edits, they should inform both Authors and Editor in the report.

    • Reviewers are asked to check whether the manuscript is scientifically sound and coherent, how interesting it is and whether the quality of the writing is acceptable.

    • In cases of strong disagreement between the reviews or between the Authors and Reviewers, the Editors can judge these according to their expertise or seek advice from a member of the journal's Editorial Board.

    • Reviewers are also asked to indicate which articles they consider to be especially interesting or significant. These articles may be given greater prominence and greater external publicity, including press releases addressed to science journalists and mass media.

    • During a second review round, the Reviewer may be asked by the Subject Editor to evaluate the revised version of the manuscript with regards to Reviewer’s recommendations submitted during the first review round.

    • Reviewers are asked to be polite and constructive in their reports. Reports that may be insulting or uninformative will be rescinded.

    • Reviewers are asked to start their report with a very brief summary of the reviewed paper. This will help the Editors and Authors see whether the reviewer correctly understood the paper or whether a report might be based on misunderstanding.

    • Further, Reviewers are asked to comment on originality, structure and previous research: (1) Is the paper sufficiently novel and does it contribute to a better understanding of the topic under scrutiny? Is the work rather confirmatory and repetitive? (2) Is the introduction clear and concise? Does it place the work into the context that is necessary for a reader to comprehend the aims, hypotheses tested, experimental design or methods? Are Material and Methods clearly described and sufficiently explained? Are reasons given when choosing one method over another one from a set of comparable methods? Are the results clearly but concisely described? Do they relate to the topic outlined in the introduction? Do they follow a logical sequence? Does the discussion place the paper in scientific context and go a step beyond the current scientific knowledge on the basis of the results? Are competing hypotheses or theories reasonably related to each other and properly discussed? Do conclusions seem reasonable?  Is previous research adequately incorporated into the paper? Are references complete, necessary and accurate? Is there any sign that substantial parts of the paper were copies of other works?

    • Reviewers should not review manuscripts in which they have conflicts of interest resulting from competitive, collaborative, or other relationships or connections with any of the authors, companies, or institutions connected to the papers.

    • Reviewers should keep all information regarding papers confidential and treat them as privileged information. 

    • Reviewers should express their views clearly with supporting arguments. 

    • Reviewers should identify relevant published work that has not been cited by the authors.

    • Reviewers should also call to the Editors’ attention any substantial similarity or overlap between the manuscript under consideration and any other published paper of which they have personal knowledge.

    Responsibility of Editors

    • Editors in Pensoft’s journals carry the main responsibility for the scientific quality of the published papers and base their decisions solely on the papers' importance, originality, clarity and relevance to publication's scope.

    • The Subject Editor takes the final decision on a manuscript’s acceptance or rejection and his/her name is listed as "Academic Editor" in the header of each article.

    • The Subject Editors are not expected to provide a thorough linguistic editing or copyediting of a manuscript, but to focus on its scientific quality, as well as the overall style, which should correspond to the good practices in clear and concise academic writing. 

    • Editors are expected to spot small errors in orthography or stylistic during the editing process and correct them.

    • Editors should always consider the needs of the Authors and the Readers when attempting to improve the publication. 

    • Editors should guarantee the quality of the papers and the integrity of the academic record. 

    • Editors should preserve the anonymity of Reviewers, unless the later decide to disclose their identities. 

    • Editors should ensure that all research material they publish conforms to internationally accepted ethical guidelines. 

    • Editors should act if they suspect misconduct and make all reasonable attempts to obtain a resolution to the problem. 

    • Editors should not reject papers based on suspicions, they should have proof of misconduct.

    • Editors should not allow any conflicts of interest between Authors, Reviewers and Board Members.

    Human and animal rights

    The ethical standards in medical and pharmacological studies are based on the Helsinki declaration (1964, amended in 1975, 1983, 1989, 1996 and 2000) of the World Medical Association and the Publication Ethics Policies for Medical Journals of the World Association of Medical Journals (WAME).

    Authors of studies including experiments on humans or human tissues should declare in their cover letter a compliance with the ethical standards of the respective institutional or regional committee on human experimentation and attach committee’s statement and informed consent; for those researchers who do not have access to formal ethics review committees, the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki should be followed and declared in the cover letter. Patients’ names, initials, or hospital numbers should not be used, not in the text nor in any illustrative material, tables of databases, unless the author presents a written permission from each patient to use his or her personal data. Photos or videos of patients should be taken after a warning and agreement of the patient or of a legal authority acting on his or her behalf.

    Animal experiments require full compliance with local, national, ethical, and regulatory principles, and local licensing arrangements and respective statements of compliance (or approvals of institutional ethical committees where such exists) should be included in the article text.

    Informed consent

    Individual participants in studies have the right to decide what happens to the identifiable personal data gathered, to what they have said during a study or an interview, as well as to any photograph that was taken. Hence it is important that all participants gave their informed consent in writing prior to inclusion in the study. Identifying details (names, dates of birth, identity numbers and other information) of the participants that were studied should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, and genetic profiles unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the participant (or parent or guardian if the participant is incapable) gave written informed consent for publication. Complete anonymity is difficult to achieve in some cases, and informed consent should be obtained if there is any doubt. If identifying characteristics are altered to protect anonymity, such as in genetic profiles, authors should provide assurance that alterations do not distort scientific meaning.

    The following statement should be included in the article text in one of the following ways:

    • "Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study."

    • "Informed consent was obtained from all individuals for whom identifying information is included in this article." (In case some patients’ data have been published in the article or supplementary materials to it).

    Conflict of interest

    During the editorial process, the following relationships between editors and authors are considered conflicts of interest: Current colleagues, recent colleagues, recent co-authors, and doctoral students for which editor served as committee chair. During the submission process, the authors are kindly advised to identify possible conflicts of interest with the journal editors. After manuscripts are assigned to the handling editor, individual editors are required to inform the managing editor of any possble conflicts of interest with the authors. Journal submissions are also assigned to referees to minimize conflicts of interest. After manuscripts are assigned for review, referees are asked to inform the editor of any conflicts that may exist.

    Appeals and open debate

    We encourage academic debate and constructive criticism. Authors are always invited to respond to any editorial correspondence before publication. Authors are not allowed to neglect unfavorable comments about their work and 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. Editors should edit (or reject) personal or offensive statements. Authors should submit their appeal on editorial decisions to the Editorial Office, addressed to the Editor-in-Chief or to the Managing Editor. Authors are discouraged from directly contacting Editorial Board Members and Editors with appeals.

    Editors will mediate all discussions between Authors and Reviewers during the peer review process prior to publication. If agreement cannot be reached, Editors may consider inviting additional reviewers if appropriate. 

    The Editor-in-Chief will mediate all discussions between Authors and Subject Editors.

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


    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; c) plagiarism. 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.

    Plagiarism and duplicate publication policy
    A special case of misconduct is plagiarism, which is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit. Plagiarism is considered theft of intellectual property and manuscripts submitted to this journal which contain substantial unattributed textual copying from other papers will be immediately rejected. Editors are advised to check manuscripts for plagiarism via the iThenticate service by clicking on the "ïThenticate report" button. Journal providing a peer review in languages other than English (for example, Russian) may use other plagiarism checking services (for example, Antiplagiat). 
    Instances, when authors re-use large parts of their publications without providing a clear reference to the original source, are considered duplication of work. Slightly changed published works submitted in multiple journals is not acceptable practice either. In cases of plagiarism in an already published paper or duplicate publication, an announcement will be made on the journal publication page and a procedure of retraction will be triggered.

    Responses to possible misconduct

    All allegations of misconduct must be referred to the Editor-In-Chief. Upon the thorough examination, the Editor-In-Chief and deputy editors should conclude if the case concerns a possibility of misconduct. All allegations should be kept confidential and references to the matter in writing should be kept anonymous, whenever possible.

    Should a comment on potential misconduct be submitted by the Reviewers or Editors, an explanation will be sought from the Authors. If it is satisfactory and the issue is the result of either a mistake or misunderstanding, the matter can be easily resolved. If not, the manuscript will be rejected or retracted and the Editors may impose a ban on that individual's publication in the journals for a certain period of time. In cases of published plagiarism or dual publication, an announcement will be made in both journals explaining the situation.

    When allegations concern authors, the peer review and publication process for their submission will be halted until completion of the aforementioned process. The investigation will be carried out even if the authors withdraw the manuscript, and implementation of the responses below will be considered.

    When allegations concern reviewers or editors, they will be replaced in the review process during the ongoing investigation of the matter. Editors or reviewers who are found to have engaged in scientific misconduct should be removed from further association with the journal, and this fact reported to their institution.

    Retraction policies

    Article retraction

    According to the COPE Retraction Guidelines followed by this Journal, an article can be retracted because of the following reasons:

    • Unreliable findings based on clear evidence of a misconduct (e.g. fraudulent use of the data) or honest error (e.g. miscalculation or experimental error).
    • Redundant publication, e.g., findings that have previously been published elsewhere without proper cross-referencing, permission or justification.
    • Plagiarism or other kind of unethical research.

    Retraction procedure

    • Retraction should happen after a careful consideration by the Journal editors of allegations coming from the editors, authors, or readers.
    • The HTML version of the retracted article is removed (except for the article metadata) and on its place a retraction note is issued.
    • The PDF of the retracted article is left on the website but clearly watermarked with the note "Retracted" on each page.
    • In some rare cases (e.g., for legal reasons or health risk) the retracted article can be replaced with a new corrected version containing apparent link to the retracted original version and a retraction note with a history of the document.

    Expression of concern

    In other cases, the Journal editors should consider issuing an expression of concern, if evidence is available for:

    • Inconclusive evidence of research or publication misconduct by the authors.
    • Unreliable findings that are unreliable but the authors’ institution will not investigate the case.
    • A belief that an investigation into alleged misconduct related to the publication either has not been, or would not be, fair and impartial or conclusive.
    • An investigation is underway but a judgement will not be available for a considerable time.


    Journal editors should consider issuing a correction if:

    • A small portion of an otherwise reliable publication proves to be misleading (especially because of honest error).
    • The author / contributor list is incorrect (i.e. a deserving author has been omitted or somebody who does not meet authorship criteria has been included).
    • Other reasons that do not qualify as a sound evidence for retraction or expression of concern.

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

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