- Publisher policies
- Objectivity and fair play
- Financial and competing interests
- Author contributions
- Redundant or concurrent publication
- Data deposition
- Resource sharing
- Experimental subjects
- Image manipulation
- Data retention
- Originality and plagiarism
- Corrections and retractions
Responsibility for (1) the accuracy of statements of fact, (2) the authenticity of scientific findings or observations, (3) expressions of scientific or other opinion and (4) any other material published in the journal rests solely with the author(s) of the article in which such statements, etc., appear. The Journal, its owners, publishers, editors, reviewers and staff take no responsibility for these matters.
The Company of Biologists' journals adhere to the principles outlined below, which have been devised to ensure the accurate, timely, fair and ethical publication of scientific papers. As a member of COPE (The Committee on Publication Ethics) The Company of Biologists regularly reviews its editorial policies. It has adopted clear and rigorous guidelines for best working practices in scientific publishing, working in conjunction with our academic partners. Such policies will benefit our authors, editors and readers as we strive for a trustworthy, transparent and efficient publishing process. Responsibility for the journal and its policies lies with the Editor in Chief in conjunction with the Publisher; any concerns either regarding specific papers or general policies should be directed to the Managing Editor of the journal.
BiO investigates all potential cases reported to it or of which it becomes aware. In many cases, this will require the involvement of authors’ institutes and sometimes the appointment of independent experts. The majority of cases are resolved pre-publication, but some do relate to published articles. Should our investigations find that no action is required, it is our usual practice not to make any public statement about the investigation, although we do report the outcome to the individual(s) who reported the potential issue. If, however, our investigations find that action is required relating to a published article, this will be made clear through the published record, for example in the form of a Correction, Retraction, Expression of Concern and/or Publisher’s Note.
All versions of scholarly articles will remain available once published. When multiple versions of the same article are available, The Company of Biologists will ensure that these articles are clearly labelled with the date of publication and version number or type.
The online issue version of BiO is considered to be the version of record.
Permanence of the publication record
Preservation of electronic versions of articles in a permanent archive is an essential component of today's publishing. The Company of Biologists has a third-party agreement with Highwire Press, who administer our archive, and are members of the LOCKSS/CLOCKSS program.
The Company has adopted the DOI (digital object identifier) system to enable accurate citation and stable online availability of our published articles (see www.doi.org).
Editors and reviewers are expected to treat articles they handle confidentially. Editors and reviewers must not disclose information about manuscripts (including their receipt, content, status in the publishing process, reviewer feedback and final decision) to anyone. They should not use knowledge of the work before its publication to further their own interests. Reviewers also have the right to confidentiality; they will remain anonymous to authors (unless they choose to waive their anonymity) and readers, and their comments will not be published.
In situations where a reviewer wishes to co-review an article with a junior member of their laboratory, they must abide by the same rules of confidentiality and publishing ethics, and be named as a co-reviewer on submission of the review to the journal. Sharing manuscript details with lab members as a whole or with colleagues outside of the lab is not permitted.
Objectivity and fair play
An Editor will evaluate manuscripts for their intellectual content without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political philosophy of the authors.
Reviews should be conducted objectively. Personal criticism of the author is inappropriate. Referees should express their views clearly with supporting arguments.
Any concerns regarding objectivity and fair play should be directed to the Managing Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Financial and competing interests
A competing or conflict of interest is anything that might inappropriately influence (bias), or which might be perceived to interfere with, the full and objective presentation, review or publication of research findings or review-type material. Competing interests can be financial, professional or personal, and can be held by authors, their employers, funders, reviewers, Editors and editorial staff. Having a competing interest does not imply wrongdoing.
BiO is committed to publishing the most objective and unbiased scientific information possible. As such, we ask that all participants in the publication process disclose all relationships that could be viewed as potential competing interests. Questions regarding financial or competing interests should be addressed to the Managing Editor at email@example.com.
BiO requires complete disclosure of financial, personal or professional associations that could be perceived as interfering with the objectivity of their scientific judgment, and requests that authors err on the side of disclosure in the event of uncertainty. Such associations include (but are not limited to) patents, consultancy, paid employment/affiliation, stock ownership, board membership, gifts received, research grants, relationships with Editors, membership in a lobbying organization, role as an expert witness, membership of a government advisory board, and relationships with organizations or funding groups. If any author included on a manuscript has potential competing interests, these must be clearly stated in a disclosure statement with the original submission of their work. Detailed information about current associations extending beyond those listed on the title (address) page of their manuscript, as well as any anticipated in the foreseeable future, should be provided. Competing interests held by an author's employer (e.g. academic institution, company, etc.) or the financial sponsor of the work presented should also be declared.
Authors must include information regarding the provider of financial and material support of their research in the Funding section at the end of the manuscript. This statement should include authors' grant support, funding sources, and the provision of equipment and supplies.
A ‘Competing Interests’ disclosure statement will be published at the end of the main text. Authors without financial or competing interests should explicitly assert this and the statement ‘No competing interests declared’ will be published. Competing interests may, in some circumstances, be a factor in editorial decisions, but we do not reject papers simply because a conflict has been disclosed. However, failure to provide financial or competing interests disclosures in the original submission may delay its evaluation and review.
Unbiased independent critical assessment has a key place in scholarly publication. Reviewers should declare any association with authors of a paper. They should also disclose any financial or professional associations that could be perceived as interfering with the objectivity of their scientific assessment of a paper. If a reviewer is unsure whether they should review a paper for reasons of competing interests, they should inform the Editor of the paper or the Editorial Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that the Editor can decide whether a potential conflict should exclude them.
Authors can request to exclude reviewers with perceived competing interests from refereeing their paper, but are asked to provide additional information to support such a request. The Editors will respect these requests provided that they do not interfere with the objective and thorough assessment of an article.
Editors and editorial staff
Editors who make final editorial decisions on articles must have no financial, personal or professional involvement with the manuscript under consideration. If a potential bias exists, they should withdraw from handling the paper. Editors will base decisions on the importance of the work and not on its potential effect on the Journal’s commercial success.
Editors are required to disclose any potential competing interests to The Company of Biologists, and editorial staff members are not permitted to use information obtained through working with manuscripts for private gain.
An author is someone who has made significant and substantial contributions to a study. This should include conceptualization, design (methodology), investigation (performing experiments or data/evidence collection) and formal analysis of the findings being published, and drafting and revising the article. Papers must be submitted with the agreement of all authors, and all authors should give final approval of the version to be published. If the author list is modified after the first submission, this must be done with the agreement of all authors. Those who have made other contributions to the work, such as by providing reagents or assisting with the writing, should be listed in the Acknowledgements, and their role or involvement outlined.
Useful guidelines on what constitutes authorship can be found here.
BiO requires that the independent contributions of each author be stated (for primary research papers). Such statements can designate those authors who developed the concepts or approach, performed experiments or data analysis, and prepared or edited the manuscript prior to submission. We encourage you to use the CRediT taxonomy to define individual author contributions.
In cases of authorship disputes that can not be resolved between the authors, the editors reserve the right to refer the dispute to the institutes involved for resolution. Useful guidelines for researchers on how to avoid authorship disputes can be found here.
Redundant or concurrent publication
Research manuscripts that describe work already published elsewhere will not be considered. The submission of the same manuscript to more than one journal concurrently is also considered to be unethical practice. This does not prevent journals from considering articles that have been rejected by other journals or that were not previously published in full (e.g. abstracts or posters presented at scientific meetings).
By submitting a research article to BiO, the authors undertake that it has not been published previously and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere.
At submission, authors should declare any previous submissions or publications that might be regarded as overlapping with the submitted manuscript. This includes prior publication of ANY of the data. Copies of any such related articles should be included with the submitted manuscript to assist editorial decision making. Any figures, photos, tables or other works that have been previously published/copyrighted must be accompanied by written permission from the copyright holder for reuse of that content. Deposition of research manuscripts (e.g. Research Articles and Methods & Techniques) prior to submission on community preprint servers, or of conference presentations online, will not be considered prior publication and will not compromise potential publication in BiO (although note that different press embargo conditions may apply - see Media policies). Versions of a manuscript that have altered as a result of the peer review process may not be deposited. Authors should provide details of the deposition in the cover letter accompanying manuscript submission. Authors are requested to update the preprint server record with a link to the final published version of the article on the BiO website.
If redundant publication is attempted or occurs, editorial action will be taken, including probable rejection or retraction of the manuscript.
Publication in BiO requires that primary data for high-throughput experiments such as microarrays, RNA-seq, ChIP-chip or ChIP-seq be deposited in the appropriate public database. The Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO), ArrayExpress, European Nucleotide Archive (ENA) or Short Read Archive (SRA) are appropriate repositories for most functional genomics data.
Sequences must be submitted to the EMBL Database Library or GenBank. Protein sequences that have been determined by direct sequencing of the protein must be submitted to SWISS-PROT at the EBI. All accession numbers should be included in the manuscript. Authors are welcome to use other established data type-specific repositories, provided an accession number is available. We encourage authors to submit data at the time of manuscript submission and to provide confidential access for the editors and referees. Datasets must be released at the time of publication.
In addition to the data types detailed above, BiO encourages authors to make all data underlying their research available to the community. For data where there is no appropriate specific database, we encourage submission of large datasets in Dryad or Figshare.
To facilitate data sharing, BiO has integrated its submission system with Dryad data deposition. Authors submitting their research to BiO will have the opportunity to deposit their data directly into the Dryad archive and will receive a permanent, citable link to their dataset. Deposition in Dryad ensures the data are freely accessible once the article becomes available online, and provides bidirectional links between the article and the data, increasing visibility for both. We encourage authors to submit data at the time of manuscript submission and to provide confidential access for the editors and referees. Datasets deposited in Dryad during submission will be released once the article has been accepted for publication.
All manuscripts that report data deposited elsewhere should include a Data availability section that includes accession numbers and states where the article's supporting data can be accessed (see our manuscript preparation guidelines for more details).
BiO endorses the Force 11 Data Citation Principles and recommends that all publicly available datasets be fully referenced in the reference list with an accession number or unique identifier such as a DOI.
Please contact the Editorial Office if you require advice on deposition of such data.
By publishing in BiO, authors agree that they will make available to qualified researchers, in a timely manner and with minimal restrictions, the reagents and materials, including mutant and transgenic lines, antibodies and DNA constructs, described in their article for the purpose of academic, non-commercial research. Authors must make datasets available in public repositories; see Data deposition policies for further details.
Concerns regarding Resource sharing should be sent to the Editorial Office.
BiO encourages researchers to consult the ARRIVE guidelines for reporting animal research. These guidelines provide a checklist for those preparing a manuscript intended for publication. BiO does not allow the publication of papers describing experimental procedures that may reasonably be presumed to have inflicted unnecessary pain, discomfort or disturbance of normal health on living animals. Manuscripts will only be accepted if: (1) it is clear that the scientific advances made justified the procedures; (2) appropriate anaesthetic and surgical procedures were followed; (3) adequate steps were taken to ensure that animals did not suffer unnecessarily at any stage of the experiment.
Care and use of experimental animals must comply with all relevant local animal welfare laws, guidelines and policies. The corresponding author will be asked to confirm this at submission, and a statement confirming that experiments conform to the relevant regulatory standards is required in the Materials & Methods section of the paper.
For research involving live vertebrates and higher invertebrates, experiments must comply with all relevant institutional and national animal welfare laws, guidelines and policies, as should the care and use of experimental animals. The corresponding author will be asked to confirm this at submission, and a statement confirming that experiments conform to the relevant regulatory standards is required in the Materials & Methods section of the paper.
For research involving human subjects or human tissue, authors must name the committee(s) that approved the experiments in the Materials & Methods section of the paper and include with their submission a statement to confirm that informed consent was obtained from all subjects or tissue donors. We also encourage authors to submit a sample of a patient consent form, and may require submission on particular occasions. For work involving human eggs or embryos, any financial recompense to donors must be declared. All clinical investigation must have been conducted according to the principles expressed in the Declaration of Helsinki.
Please note that any alterations made to figures using computer software must be consistent with our image manipulation policy. The images presented in the manuscript must remain representative of the original data, and the corresponding author will be asked to confirm this at submission. Please read our requirements for preparing your figures to avoid a potential delay in the publication process or rejection on the basis of non-compliance with these guidelines. This guide also includes recommendations on improving figure layout to help reviewers and readers appreciate your data.
Image manipulation policy
Digital images in manuscripts accepted for publication will be scrutinized by our production department for any indication of manipulation. If evidence of inappropriate image manipulation is detected, the Journal's Editors may ask for the original data to be supplied.
- Do not add to, alter, enhance, obscure, move or remove a specific feature of an image – the focus should be on the data rather than its presentation (e.g. do not ‘clean up’ backgrounds or remove/obscure imperfections and non-specific bands)
- Adjustments should be applied to the whole image so no specific feature of the original data, including background, is obscured, eliminated or misrepresented as a consequence. Any non-linear adjustments must be disclosed in the appropriate figure legends and in the Materials & Methods section.
- The splicing of multiple images to suggest they represent a single micrograph or gel is not allowed
- Any grouping or consolidation of data (e.g. removal of lanes from gels and blots or cropping of images) must be made apparent (i.e. with dividing lines or white spaces) and should be explicitly indicated in the figure legends
- A positive and a negative control and a set of molecular weight markers must be indicated on all images of gels and blots
- High-contrast gels and blots are unacceptable (i.e. no white backgrounds) – grey backgrounds are expected
- The same data in whole or part should not be presented in multiple figures (e.g. loading controls; different exposures of the same gel), unless explicitly stated and justified
- Previously published data in whole or in part (e.g. loading controls) should not be presented
- All figures containing micrographs must contain a scale bar.
- Image acquisition methods must be described in the Materials & Methods or figure legends.
- Individual data should not be used across multiple figures, unless this is because of experimental design (for example, when multiple experiments are performed simultaneously using a single control experiment), in which case this must be clearly stated in each figure legend.
We expect that all authors will comply with their funder/institute requirements for data storage, and we recommend that, as a minimum, authors keep their original data for 7 years.
Original data must be available for review by the journal if deemed necessary for proper evaluation of the manuscript before publication. If the original data cannot be produced, we may decide to reject the article, or revoke its acceptance.
Original data must also be available for review by the journal after publication if concerns are raised. If the original data cannot be produced, we may decide to retract the article.
Cases of suspected misconduct will be reported to the author’s home institution and/or funding agency.
Originality and plagiarism
Plagiarism is defined by the World Association of Medical Editors as "the use of others' published and unpublished ideas or words (or other intellectual property) without attribution or permission, and presenting them as new and original rather than derived from an existing source". It is considered a dishonest and unacceptable practice. The words of others can be taken directly from another source in the form of a quotation, using appropriate punctuation and attribution. However, cutting-and-pasting sentences or long passages of text in a manner that suggests they are your own is not permitted, even if the original source is cited. By submitting an article, authors are thereby asserting that their work is entirely original and that others' work or text has been appropriately cited or attributed. The re-use of one’s own published work without appropriate citation (self-plagiarism) is also unethical. Upon article acceptance, all manuscripts undergo screening for plagiarism (using the iThenticate software provided by CrossRef).
For publicly available theses, the text ideally should be rewritten to ensure that the submitted paper is original. This will avoid potential issues regarding copyright if owned by a third party. Any data previously presented in a thesis in whole or in part should be detailed in the Acknowledgements section with complete citation details.
For information on reproducing and attributing figures and other content from other publications in BiO, please see our Rights and permissions page.
Corrections and retractions
The Company of Biologists will take all necessary steps to maintain the accuracy and quality of the papers published in BiO. Should an author discern a significant error or inaccuracy in their article, they are responsible for notifying the journal, and should work together with the journal (and, where appropriate, the institute) to correct the paper. If the journal learns that a published article contains a potential error, the author will be asked to assist verification by the journal of the correctness of the original paper or correct the error. In cases of serious error or scientific misconduct, it might be necessary to ask the authors to retract their paper or to impose a retraction on them.
Where an investigation into an issue with a published paper is likely to take considerable time – or a case is particularly serious – we may add a Publisher’s Note explaining the issues to the reader while the matter is being resolved.
BiO also publishes Correspondence and Response articles in cases in which a paper warrants further discussion. For further details, please see the Correspondence section on our Article Types page
The Company of Biologists is a member of COPE, the Committee on Publication Ethics, and has adopted its best practices concerning the following procedure
Should an error appear in a published article that affects scientific meaning or author credibility but does not affect the overall results and conclusions of the paper, our policy is to publish a Correction. If an error is introduced by the publishing staff during the editing and/or proofing stages, the journal takes responsibility and a Correction is published, with appropriate apologies to authors and readers. If an error is introduced by the authors, a Correction is published and the author is required to pay all costs associated with the Correction (currently £200).
Please contact BiO to submit or request a Correction to the journal.
All Corrections will be published prominently in the journal on numbered pages, listed on the table of contents and have their own doi. They will be clearly labelled and contain a full reference to the original article to ensure that they are picked up by indexing systems for reciprocal online linking. The text will explain the changes being made and/or the reasons for action being taken. For articles that are posted online ahead of publication, the Correction will be made and a new version of the article is posted. There is usually no accompanying Correction article.
Should a published paper contain one or more significant errors or inaccuracies that change the overall results and conclusions of the paper, the entire paper should be retracted. The word 'Retraction' will be used in the title of the Retraction to ensure that it is detected by indexing systems. The journal will request an explanation from the author(s) as to how the errors or inaccuracies occurred, and if they are not satisfied with the response they will ask the employers of the authors or some other appropriate body to investigate, and particularly to consider the possibility of fraudulent behaviour. The journal will make all reasonable attempts to ensure that such an investigation is carried out with due diligence.
Notices of retraction will mention the reasons and basis for the retraction. They will be clearly labelled and contain a full reference to the original article. The Retraction notice is linked to the original article online. The PDF of the retracted article will be stamped with the words ‘Retracted’, and other views of the article will be clearly marked as retracted. Should an Advance Article be retracted, the Retraction notice will replace the withdrawn article, and will subsequently be published in an issue.