All EMBO Press journals Open Access as of 1 January 2024 - read the FAQs

Transparent Process

The EMBO Press journals use a fair and transparent process to rapidly publish important science.

Transparent Review

  • No confidential referee remarks
  • Published referee reports and editorial correspondence; referee decide whether to sign reports
  • Editors respect requests to exclude specific referees
  • Editors justify editorial decisions in detail and specify what is required for a revision
  • Named co-referees

Flexible Formatting

  • No journal-specific formatting required at submission; single file submission in any format possible
  • Manuscripts are assessed for science, not for style
  • No size restrictions on Reference lists and Materials & Methods Sections

Scooping Protection

  • Similar findings that are published by others after posting of a preprint version of the submitted manuscript (if journal submission is within 4 months and substantially the same), during review or revision, are not a criterion for rejection
  • In exceptional circumstances, editors may consider manuscripts that have just been scooped

Cross-Referee Commenting and Author Pre-decision Consultation

  • Referees are invited to comment on each other's reports before the editor makes a decision, ensuring a balanced review process
  • Where this benefits the decision process, referee reports are shared with authors prior to an editorial decision for comments on the referee reports

Single Round

  • Papers rarely undergo more than one major round of experimental revision
  • Referees are asked to focus on essential revisions and to consider the feasibility of experiments they suggest
  • Revisions are invited only if they are possible in a realistic time frame
  • Editors ensure that referees do not raise new non-essential points upon revision
  • More than 95% of invited revisions are published at The EMBO Journal

Fast Process

  • Editorial decisions are returned usually within a week and referee comments within a month
  • After acceptance, we can publish fully edited papers within 10 days

Approachable Editors

  • Authors can discuss manuscripts with editors at any stage in the process, including before submission, during revision and following rejection. Editors may invite author feedback on referee reports before reaching a decision

Informed Evaluation

  • Independent Scientific editors undertake a comprehensive evaluation of each manuscript. Editorial board members advise rapidly on manuscripts

Source Data and Open Science

  • We ask authors to publish minimally processed source data underlying data presented in the figures under an open licence to promote data transparency and reuse
  • Supplementary information is restricted to essential data supporting key claims in the main paper. Structured datasets, models and are also permitted
  • All papers have a data availability section
  • Datasets can be formally cited in the reference list
  • Detailed protocols and methods are encouraged; Materials & Methods sections have no wordlimits and are excluded from self-plagiarism screens
  • Reference lists are open


  • Preprints posting on recognized preprint servers is encouraged and will not preclude publication in the journals. Preprints on bioRxiv can be directly submitted to any of the EMBO Press journals and will be linked to the published journal paper
  • Preprints are subject to ‘scooping protection’, if a substantially similar version is submitted to any of the journals within 4 months
  • Preprints can be formally cited in the reference list

Manuscript Transfers

  • Authors can elect to transfer manuscripts with referee reports between the EMBO publications. Editors prioritize transfers and base decisions on the available information, ensuring exceptional manuscripts can be published without delay
  • The editors will consider unmodified referee reports from other journals and will base their decisions wherever possible and at their sole discretion on these reports and minimal additional expert advice
  • Referee reports from any EMBO Press journal can be added in unmodified form to support a manuscript submission at any other recognized scientific journal. EMBO Press will verify these report with the other journal on request

Review Process Files

All EMBO Press journals invite authors to have a Peer Review Process File included alongside their published papers. Authors can decline to participate in this initiative. More than 90% of EMBO Press manuscripts have associated Peer Review Process Files.

A Peer Review Process File documents the timeline and all the correspondence relevant to the processing of the manuscript at the Journal. It contains the referee reports from each round of review, alongside the author responses and the editorial decision letters, and, where appropriate, additional correspondence between the editors and the authors. Referees remain anonymous, unless they decide to sign the report.

The time line includes the actual dates of each submission, resubmission and decision.

De-emphasis of confidential comments

All EMBO Press journals forego 'confidential referee comments' section in the peer review form. Confidential comments may be appropriate in rare cases where there are concerns about ethical standards, data integrity, biosecurity or conflicts of an academic or commercial nature, and may be communicated directly to the editor.

Referee cross-commenting

In order to optimize the peer review process, EMBO Press journals now actively encourage referees to comment on each other's reports. For the majority of manuscripts, we send the reports to all referees a day before the decision is made encouraging feedback. It is essential to emphasize that we do not expect every referee to comment on every other report. The lack of a post-review comment will in no way lessen our appreciation of the primary report filed. There are two major scenarios where post-review feedback is important: if a referee wants to note that one of the other referees has raised erroneous or non-essential issues, or indeed if a bias is perceived, or if a referee has overlooked an essential point raised by another referee and wishes to reinforce that point. Importantly, we will not always go with the last word— the additional feedback will help us think in a more integrated way about the decision, and, if need be, engage in further consultation. Note that this additional step does not delay the editorial process.


We subscribe to referee confidentiality rules. On the other hand, we are aware of the relatively common practice of handing a review onto someone else in the laboratory. If carried out correctly, this can in fact be an important part of training, but it should be reserved for experienced postdoctoral researchers. Thus, all EMBO Press journals allow co-refereeing with one other senior member of a referee's laboratory as part of the mentoring process only if the primary referee has independently evaluated the manuscript and agrees with the report filed. For co-review, conflict of interest and confidentiality rules apply to both referees. In order to provide accountability and appropriate credit, we request that the name of the co-referee be documented to the editors. If an invited referee does not have the time to review, another member of the laboratory or institute can be recommended to the editors.