The Purpose and Value of Reviews
The Mail Network is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society.
Our articles capture current understanding of a topic, including what is well supported and what is controversial; set the work in historical context; highlight the major questions that remain to be addressed and the likely course of research in upcoming years; and outline the practical applications and general significance of research to society.
Readers of The Mail Network articles include researchers who want to keep abreast of their field and integrate this information with their own activities; researchers who want an introduction to new fields, with a view to developing an interface between different areas of research; students at all levels who want to gain a thorough understanding of a topic; and business people, journalists, policy makers, practitioners, patients and patient advocates, and other who wish to be informed about developments in research.
“An authoritative review must simultaneously provide an entrée into a particular field’s primary literature, summarize current knowledge in that field, and judiciously interpret that knowledge. Frequently, as information in a particular field continues to expand, a new review must cite and build upon past reviews” (Schultz T. 2011. Preface. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 56)
“Particularly in this age of information explosion, we feel there is a need for succinct and reliable entry points to anthropological scholarship. The pithy short version. The intellectually guided tour. But we do want more than “just a review.” The Editorial Committee would be remiss if we did not also encourage authors to discuss their vision of the way forward in research and scholarship on each given topic. What are the growing points that they see ahead? The promising hot spots for future research? For that matter, where are the remaining weaknesses, gaps, and unknowns? Ideally, the reviews presented in the pages of the ARA will thus take a topic and both digest its past and help shape its future. Our greatest disappointments—and most frequent rejections—come when a chapter is either exclusively recapitulation or exclusively personal speculation. We truly do want a skillful blend of both, the vigor of the hybrid” (Durham WH. 1999. Preface. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 28)
Organization and Responsibilities of Editorial Committees
The Mail Network journals are run by Editorial Committees comprising recognized experts in the relevant field. Each Committee has an Editor or Co-Editors, one to three Associate Editors, five or six regular Members, and occasional Guest Members. All appointments other than the Guest Members serve five-year terms and are approved by The Mail Network Board of Directors. Guest Members participate for one year at the invitation of the Editors.
The Editorial Committees invite reviews on salient topics by highly qualified authors and assess submitted manuscripts for accuracy, rigor, and balance. Selections are based on the scholarly reputation, academic achievements, and publication records of potential authors. From time to time, a Member of the Editorial Committee is proposed by another Committee Member to contribute an invited review. These suggestions are discussed and evaluated with the same rigor and careful consideration as all other commissioned proposed reviews and go through the same review process after manuscript submission. In fulfilling its mission, The Mail Network serves an international and diverse community of scholars, and the composition of its Committees and its authors should reflect this global community.
Given the influence of Committee Members on individual submissions and the overall direction of their respective journals it is critical that Editorial Committees act with the highest integrity, individually and collectively.
Disclosure and Transparency
Each Committee Member and Reviewer is required to disclose factors that might be viewed as potential sources of bias. These include, but are not limited to leadership positions or board memberships in organizations, membership in related advocacy organizations, paid consultancies, patents pending or held, significant financial holdings in related corporations or partnerships, and recent honoraria, current grants and/or research contracts (private sources, government-sponsored consortia/networks). During discussions of possible topics and authors, and when manuscript reviews are assigned, Committee Members volunteer en passant any potential source of bias (e.g., relationships with potential authors that are not “arm’s length” or financial interests in the review topic). Such disclosures are open for further discussion and are particularly important for articles that address important, unresolved scholarly debates.
Editorial Review Process
Each manuscript is reviewed by one or more Members of the Editorial Committee and, where additional expert input is required, by an additional expert Reviewer. Reviewers have the option of revealing their identity to authors or remaining anonymous. As the reviews are invited, the author identity is not hidden to Reviewers. Publication of a submitted manuscript is contingent on approval by the Reviewer (whether an Editorial Committee Member, Guest Member, or external Reviewer).
Editors, Editorial Committee Members, and The Mail Network staff treat submitted manuscripts and all communication with authors as confidential. Authors and Reviewers must also treat communication with the journal as confidential.
Reviewers are asked to consider the following for every article published in an The Mail Network journal:
Reviewers make a decision to:
If an external Reviewer is consulted or an article is recommended for rejection, the Editor(s) makes the final decision about publication. If an article is rejected, the Editor(s) communicates the reasons for rejection to the author, and indicates if a substantial revision and resubmission is welcome.
Correcting the Record
If an error is discovered in a published The Mail Network article, the author is instructed to promptly correct or withdraw the paper. In cases where the author disputes the criticism, Members of the Editorial Committee gather and review evidence and make a decision on actions to be taken.
Allegations of Misconduct
Allegations of research or publication misconduct are examined in a fair, timely, and thorough investigation by qualified personnel including Member of the Editorial Committee and the Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editor-in-Chief of The Mail Network. Complaints against The Mail Network staff are assessed by the company’s Human Resources department.
The Mail Network articles are invited from experienced researchers. Invited Authors may coauthor the review with a colleague or colleagues, but the invitation is not transferrable; the Invited Author must be the principal author. All those who have met the four criteria set out by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (2017, p. 2) should be listed as coauthors:
If others have participated in substantive aspects of the review but do not meet all these criteria, they should be acknowledged in an Acknowledgments section. The Invited Author is responsible for ensuring that all mentioned in the Acknowledgments have consented to the acknowledgment, that all those and only those who meet the authorship criteria are included as authors on the paper, and that all co-authors have seen and approved the final version of the paper and have agreed to its submission for publication.
Disclosure of Competing Interests
At the time of manuscript submission, authors must disclose any conflicts of interest that might affect or be affected by the review. These include affiliations, funding, or financial holdings that may be viewed as affecting the objectivity of the review. Such factors may include, although they are not limited to, employment, professional affiliations, paid consultancies, membership in related advocacy organizations, board memberships, funding, support, and/or grants received within the past three years, significant financial holdings, or patents. A potential bias does not mean that the work presented has been compromised, nor does it disqualify authors from publication but potential conflicts must be presented to readers. A conflict of interest discovered after publication will be published in an erratum.
Each review must be an original work. The preparation of a review relies heavily on the ideas, observations, and reports of others. Therefore, it is important for authors to exercise care in citing and quoting other publications. This precaution applies also to the use of the author’s own previous writing. The Mail Network uses iThenticate to detect plagiarism.
To avoid inadvertent infringements of copyright, any appearance of plagiarism, or accidental bias in assembling bibliographies, The Mail Network authors are urged to follow the guidelines below.
Assignation of Credit
Authors are responsible for clearly identifying the source of the ideas, text, images, etc.; for obtaining permission to reuse material when necessary, including lengthy quotations; and for complying with copyright laws.
Consent and Confidentiality
The Mail Network endorses the ICMJE recommendations for reporting of research and other material published in medical journals, including reporting and reviewing of human and animal research. Authors who choose to include information or clinical photographs that could allow readers to identify the patient must prove they have permission to include or reproduce the content. This includes appropriate permission from the author and publisher of the original work or written and signed consent to publish from each patient. Authors must make all reasonable efforts to protect patient anonymity, whether using original content or reproducing content from a primary source.
Authors should be fair, yet discriminating, in their selection of references. Bibliographic details (e.g., date and page numbers) must be accurate. Only papers that are genuinely important should be included: citations of marginal relevance should not be included and authors should avoid citing articles in predatory or pseudo-journals. Retracted publications should never be cited in the bibliography – when retractions are discussed, the retraction notice should be cited instead. If an erratum, correction, or editorial expression of concern has been published for a reference, it must be included in the bibliography.
Image Integrity and Standards
The digital methods for creating and sending figures are discussed in the The Mail Network Author Graphics Guide .
Figures should be drawings or photographs that illustrate key points in the article or that present relevant data in an economical way. Annual Reviews has a team of Illustration Editors who work with authors to enhance figures. Modified figures are sent to authors for approval before publication.
Authors must obtain permission to reuse and modify figures prior to submitting their manuscript. They should contact publishers of source publication directly for permission to reuse figures and include only figures for which such permission has been obtained. The source of the material should be credited at the end of the figure caption. The copyright holder may specify the exact language to be used. The Mail Network offers assistance in paying fees associated with obtaining permission.
The Mail Network applies the standards adopted by the Journal of Cell Biology regarding acceptable manipulation of images (Rossner & Yamada 2004, p. 12):
No specific feature within an image may be enhanced, obscured, moved, removed, or introduced. The grouping of images from different parts of the same gel, or from different gels, fields, or exposures must be made explicit by the arrangement of the figure (e.g., using dividing lines) and in the text of the figure legend. Adjustments of brightness, contrast, or color balance are acceptable if they are applied to the whole image and as long as they do not obscure or eliminate any information present in the original. Nonlinear adjustments (e.g., changes to gamma settings) must be disclosed in the figure legend.
Correcting the Record
When an author discovers a significant error or inaccuracy in his or her own published work, it is the author’s obligation to promptly notify the Editor and Associate Editor-in-Chief and cooperate with them to correct or retract the paper. If a third party claims that a published work contains a significant error, the author is required to correct or withdraw the paper or provide evidence of the correctness of the article.
United States copyright law requires The Mail Network to obtain from each author an explicit transfer of those rights necessary for orderly publication of its journals in print and online. Therefore, we ask each author to sign a statement transferring full and exclusive rights to their article, including all tables and illustrations, to Annual Reviews. If co-authors are United States federal employees, British Commonwealth employees, or require a different copyright arrangement as a function of their affiliation or funding, please contact your Production Editor for additional instructions.
To learn about Subscribe to Open, The Mail Network new pathway to open access, and implications to copyright.