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Editorial Policies

Peer Review Process

Research

All research content submitted to Open Quaternary is initially assessed by an Editor, who decides whether or not the article is suitable for peer review. Submissions considered suitable are assigned to two or more independent experts, who assess the article for clarity, sound methodology/data analysis and validity of conclusions.

The journal does not dictate whether submissions are reviewed in a double-blind, single-blind, or open fashion. The authors choose whether to blind their submission files, which will dictate whether the reviewer can identify them during the review process. A guide is provided to help authors blind their files, should they wish to. Equally, the reviewer will be given the option to provide their name and affiliation within their review feedback, which will be accessible to the author. Providing this information is at the discretion of the individual reviewer.

The review period is expected to take betwen four and eight weeks, although this may vary. Reviewers are asked to provide formative feedback, even if an article is not deemed suitable for publication in the journal. If the author has not returned requested revisions within six months, the submission will be be sent back out for review, to ensure that the content remains up to date

Based on the reviewer reports the editor will make a recommendation for rejection, minor or major revisions, or acceptance. Overall editorial responsibility rests with the journal’s Editors-in-Chief, who is supported by an expert, international Editorial Board.

Authors are permitted to suggest up to three potential peer reviewers during the submission process. The journal does not guarantee to use these suggestions. All reviewers must be independent from the submission and will be asked to declare all competing interests.

The journal is happy to accept submissions of papers that have been loaded onto preprint servers or personal websites, have been presented at conferences, or other informal communication channels. These formats will not be deemed prior publication. Authors must retain copyright to such postings. Authors are encouraged to link any prior posting of their paper to the final published version within the journal, if it is editorially accepted.

Members of the editorial team/board are permitted to submit their own papers to the journal. In cases where an author is associated with the journal, they will be removed from all editorial tasks for that paper and another member of the team will be assigned responsibility for overseeing peer review. A competing interest must also be declared within the submission and any resulting publication.

Data papers

Data papers are fully peer reviewed to ensure that they are accurate and that the data has been openly archived in accordance with best practices. The datasets themselves are not reviewed in terms of validity or importance.

Negative results for example can be useful to other researchers, and even data with inaccuracies (known or unknown) can help others to better contextualise research conclusions.

All data papers are peer reviewed according to the following criteria. Due to the nature of open respositories, the review of data papers will be single blind, with the reviewer possibly knowing the identity of the author:

1. The paper contents

  1. The methods section of the paper must provide sufficient detail that a reader can understand how the dataset was created, and would within reason be able to recreate it.
  2. The dataset must be correctly described.
  3. The reuse section must provide concrete and useful suggestions for reuse of the data.

2. . The deposited data

  1. The repository the data is deposited in must be suitable for this subject and have a sustainability model (see our list of recommended repositories).
  2. The data must be deposited under an open license that permits unrestricted access (e.g. CC0, CC-BY).
  3. The deposited data must include a version that is in an open, non-proprietary format.
  4. The deposited data must have been labelled in such a way that a 3rd party can make sense of it (e.g. sensible column headers, descriptions in a readme text file).
  5. The deposited data must be actionable – i.e. if a specific script or software is needed to interpret it, this should also be archived and accessible.

Reviewer Guidelines

Reviewers are asked to provide comment on the below topics and guidelines:

  • Content: Does the article fit within the scope of the journal? Is the submission original, relevant and rigorous? Is the author’s depth of understanding of the issues researched adequate? Are the sources and references adequate? Has the existing knowledge base been explored and built upon? Are the chosen methodologies appropriate and have they and the evidential base been appropriately used? Does the conclusion reflect the argument in the main body text and bring something new to the debate?
  • Structure and argument: Does the abstract summarise the arguments in a succinct and accurate way? Is the manuscript logically structured and do the arguments flow coherently? Is there enough reference to methodology in the introduction and are the arguments fully evidenced and substantiated? Does the introduction signpost the arguments in a logical way and does the conclusion adequately summarise them?
  • Figures/tables: Does the author’s use of tables, charts, figures or maps illustrate the arguments and support the evidential base? Is the quality of the formatting and presentation adequate?
  • Formatting: Does the submitted file adhere to the general author guidelines listed for the journal? Are the citations and references formatted to house-style?
  • Language: Is the text well written and jargon free? Please comment on the quality of English and need for grammatical improvement.
  • Ethical approval: If humans or animals have been used as research subjects, are statements of ethical approval by a relevant authority present, and has informed consent should been declared?
  • Data availability: Has data used in the study been adequately described and made available? Is the data curated in a usable format? Is there a 'Data Availability' statement providing information on how to access the data?
  • General comments: Any additional information not included above
  • Open Reviewer name: Reviewers are permitted to add their name to the review form, should they wish to make the process open, allowing the author to know the identity of the reviewer

Reproducibility

Open Data

The journal strongly encourages authors to make all data associated with their submission openly available, according to the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable). This should be linked to from a Data Accessibility Statement within the submitted paper, which will be made public upon publication. If data is not being made available with the journal publication then ideally a statement from the author should be provided within the submission to explain why. Data obtained from other sources must be appropriately credited. All data should be curated in a format that allows easy understanding and analysis (e.g. sensible column headers, descriptions in a readme text file). This help will ensure its reuse potential.

Structured Methods

As the traditional Materials and Methods section often includes insufficient detail for readers to wholly assess the research process, the journal encourages authors to publish detailed descriptions of their structured methods in open, online platforms such as protocols.io. By providing a step-by-step description of the methods used in the study, the chance of reproducibility and usability increases, whilst also allowing authors to build on their own works and gain additional credit and citations.

Open Code

If research includes the use of software code, statistical analysis or algorithms then we also recommend that authors upload the code into Code Ocean, where it will be hosted on an open, cloud-based computational reproducibility platform, providing researchers and developers with an easy way to share, validate and discover code published in academic journals.

For more information on how to incorporate open data, protocols.io or Code Ocean into a submission, please visit our reproducibility page.

Specimen Provenance

The manuscript must include a description of methods and specimens within the submission, with sufficient detail to allow the work to be reproduced.

When providing specimen information, the below must be considered:

  • any specimen that is erected as a new species, described, or figured must be deposited in an accessible, permanent repository (i.e., public museum or similar institution). The article will be rejected if this criteria is not met.
  • Specimen numbers and repository information, including museum name and geographic location, are required for publication. Authors must check with the relevant institutions to ensure they are using the correct institution code and accession numbers.
  • Locality information should be provided in the manuscript as legally allowable, or a statement should be included giving details of the availability of such information to qualified researchers.
  • Details should be given of all permits that were obtained, including the full name of the issuing authority. Open Quaternary will not publish research on specimens that were obtained without necessary permission or were illegally exported.

Preprint policy

Open Quaternary allows authors to deposit draft versions of their paper into a suitable preprint server, on condition that the author agrees to the below:

  • the author retains copyright to the preprint and developed works from it, and is permitted to submit to the journal.
  • the author declares that a preprint is available within the cover letter presented during submission. This must include a link to the location of the preprint.
  • the author acknowledges that having a preprint publicly available means that the journal cannot guarantee the anonymity of the author during the review process, even if they anonymise the submitted files (see review policy).
  • should the submission be published, the authors are expected to update the information associated with the preprint version to show that a final version has been published in Open Quaternary, including the DOI linking directly to the publication.

ORCID

The journal strongly recommends that all authors submitting a paper register an account with Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier (ORCID). Registration provides a unique and persistent digital identifier for the account that enables accurate attribution and improves the discoverability of published papers, ensuring that the correct author receives the correct credit for their work. As the ORCID remains the same throughout the lifetime of the account, changes of name, affiliation, or research area do not effect the discoverability of an author's past work and aid correspondence with colleagues.

The journal encourages all corresponding authors to include an ORCID within their submitting author data whilst co-authors are recommended to include one. ORCID numbers should be added to the author data upon submission and will be published alongside the submitted paper, should it be accepted.


Authorship

All listed authors must qualify as such, as defined in our authorship guidelines, which have been developed from the ICMJE definitions. All authors must have given permission to be listed on the submitted paper.

Competing Interests and Ethical Requirements

To ensure transparency, all authors, reviewers and editors are required to declare any interests that could compromise, conflict or influence the validity of the publication. Competing Interests guidelines can be viewed here.

In addition, authors are required to specify funding sources and detail requirements for ethical research in the submitted manuscript (see Author Guidelines).

For a full list of measures to ensure the journal’s commitment to Research Integrity, click here.

The Editors-in-Chief of Open Quaternary take claims of academic misconduct seriously, and reserve the right to remove any editorial board member based on substantiated claims of misconduct, including sexual harassment, plagiarism etc. 


Corrections and Retractions

In accordance with guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (where applicable), the Press handles different kinds of error. All articles have their proofs checked prior to publication by the author/editor, which should ensure that content errors are not present. Please contact the journal if you believe an article needs correcting.

Post-publication changes to the publication are not permitted unless in exceptional circumstances. If an error is discovered in a published article then the publisher will assess whether a Correction paper or Retraction is required. Visit our Correction Policy page for more information.

Misconduct and Complaints

Allegations of misconduct will be taken with utmost seriousness, regardless of whether those involved are internal or external to the journal, or whether the submission in question is pre- or post-publication. If an allegation of misconduct is made to the journal, it must be immediately passed on to the publisher, who will follow guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) on how to address the nature of the problem. Should the matter involve allegations against a member of the journal or publishing team, an independent and objective individual(s) may be sought to lead the investigation. Where misconduct is proven or strongly suspected, the journal has an obligation to report the issue to the author's institution, who may conduct their own investigation. This applies to both research misconduct (e.g. completing research without ethical approval and consent, fabricating or falsifying data etc) and publication misconduct (e.g. manipulating the peer review process, plagiarism etc). Should an investigation conclude that misconduct or misinformation has occurred then the author, along with their institution will be notified. Should the publication record need to be corrected, the journal's correction policy will be followed.

Should an author wish to lodge a complaint against an editorial decision or the editorial process in general they should first approach the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, explaining their complaint and ask for a reasoned response. Should this not be forthcoming or adequate, the author should raise the matter with the publisher, who will investigate the nature of the complaint and act as arbiter on whether the complaint should be upheld and investigated further. This will follow guidelines set out by COPE.

Section Policies

Research paper

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Methods

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Review

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Engagement paper

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Data paper

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed

Editorial

  • Open Submissions
  • Indexed
  • Peer Reviewed


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