Evaluation Criteria for Publishing in Top-Tier Journals in Environmental Health Sciences and Toxicology
Lee, Byung-Mu, Environmental Health Perspectives
BACKGROUND: Trying to publish a paper in a top-rated peer-reviewed journal can be a difficult and frustrating experience for authors. It is important that authors understand the general review process before submitting manuscripts for publication.
OBJECTIVES: Editors-in-chief and associate editors from top-tier journals such as Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), Toxicological Sciences, Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and Chemical Research in Toxicology were asked to provide guidance concerning the writing and submission of papers to their journals.
DISCUSSION: The editors reviewed the manuscript review process for their journals, elaborated on the evaluation criteria for reviewing papers, and provided advice for future authors in preparing their papers.
CONCLUSIONS: The manuscript submission process was similar for all of the journals with the exception of EHP that includes an initial screening in which about two-thirds of submitted papers are returned to the authors without review. The evaluation criteria used by the journals were also similar. Papers that are relevant to the scope of the journal, are innovative, significandy advance the field, are well written, and adhere to the instructions to authors have a higher likelihood of being accepted. The editors advised potential authors to ensure that the topic of the paper is within the scope of the journal, represents an important problem, is carefully prepared according to the instructions to authors, and to seek editorial assistance if English is not the primary language of the authors.
KEY WORDS: environmental health sciences, evaluation criteria, peer review, top-tier journals, toxicology. Environ Health Perspect 119:896-899 (2011). doi:10.1289/ehp.l003280 [Online 17 March 2011]
Environmental health sciences is the study of how various biological, physical, or chemical factors influence the health of humans and their surroundings. Research in this area is increasingly multidisciplinary and includes a number of related fields such as toxicology, exposure science, and epidemiology. Environmental health research provides the scientific basis for developing public health strategies to protect human health and approaches to promote a sustainable environment. One of the primary sources of scientific information that is available to researchers and policy makers is the peer-reviewed literature.
Publishing scientific information is also clearly important to researchers in academia, government, and industry. Their careers and their organizations are highly dependent on publishing their findings in the best journals possible. Many scientists have little difficulty designing and conducting experiments, but they tend not to be as successful in getting their work published in a highly rated peer-reviewed journal. Editors of such journals often receive complaints from authors expressing concerns about the peer-review process, especially the quality of the reviews. Many authors wonder why the rejection rate varies so much across journals. The acceptance rate for a journal such as Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) is about 20% (Tilson H, personal communication), whereas the acceptance rate for other journals can be as high as 50%. Most editors of journals would agree that the rejection rate for papers from developing countries is higher than for those from developed countries. The reasons for this disparity are not clear but may relate to the fact that most top-tier journals are written in English. This may be problematic for some authors who use English as a second language.
In May 2010, the Korean Society of Toxicology sponsored an international workshop that was held in Seoul, Korea titled "The Way to Top-Tiered Journals in Toxicology." Editors from EHP, Journal of'Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (JPET), Chemical Research in Toxicology (CRT), and Toxicological Sciences (Toxicol Sci) were invited to discuss their manuscript review processes and the criteria used to accept or reject papers. …