Editorial Policies

These policies refer to the five British Ecological Society journals: Functional Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Applied Ecology, Journal of Ecology and Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Please read these policies and our submission guidelines before submitting a manuscript. For policies relating to our partner journal Ecology and Evolution please visit their website.

Peer Review Policy

The BES journals operate a single-blind confidential peer-review process, for a summary see here. Author names are not concealed. Editors and reviewers are expected to handle the manuscripts confidentially and must not disclose any details to anyone outside of the review process.

Reviewers also have the right to confidentiality and their names are not revealed to authors unless they choose to sign their review. Peer review comments should remain confidential even after a manuscript receives a final decision. If deemed appropriate for peer review by journal editors manuscripts are normally reviewed by two independent experts in the relevant area. All correspondence between an author, editor, and peer reviewer should remain in confidence unless explicit consent has been given by all parties, including the journal, or unless there are exceptional ethical or legal circumstances that require identities or details of the correspondence to be revealed.

Reviewers are acknowledged through a list of contributing reviewers published each year on the journal website. Reviewers are welcome to claim reviews for the journal on third party sites (such as Publons), but review comments and details of specific papers should not be published.

Editorial independence is maintained for all submissions, meaning that neither the BES nor Wiley interfere with editorial decisions on submissions to our journals.

Back to top

Transfer of Reviewers to Ecology and Evolution

The BES journals work together with Wiley’s Open Access Journal, Ecology and Evolution, to enable rapid publication of good quality research that we are unable to accept for publication in our journals. Authors, whose papers are rejected by a BES Journal, may be offered the option of having the paper, along with any related peer reviews, automatically transferred for consideration by the Editors of Ecology and Evolution. Authors will not need to reformat or rewrite their manuscript at this stage, and publication decisions will be made a short time after the transfer takes place. The Editors of Ecology and Evolution will accept submissions that report well-conducted research which reaches the standard acceptable for publication. Ecology and Evolution is a Wiley Open Access journal and article publication fees apply. For more information please go to www.ecolevol.org.

Back to top

Collaborative Peer Review

We strongly encourage senior reviewers to review in collaboration with more junior members of their lab. We believe that this is fantastic training for early career researchers. If, as the head of a lab, you are invited to review but are too busy to provide a review yourself, we also encourage you to suggest early career members of your lab to review in your place. In this case we advise you to look over the comments before they are submitted and approve them. The reviewer should note that this has been done in their confidential comments.

If you would like to share a review with an early career researcher in your lab, please bear in mind the following:

  • Contact the journal first – please don’t forget that the review process is confidential and it is very important that the journal is informed before a review is shared.

  • Give the names of all who read the manuscript and contributed to the review in the confidential comments to Editors section of the review. This is important for two reasons, first so that there is a proper record of anyone who has read a copy of the manuscript. Second, so that anyone who contributed may be approached directly to review in the future.

  • If you’d like to suggest that the journal passes a review request on to a lab member, rather than sharing the review as a development exercise, then it is important you decline the review but suggest your lab member as an alternative. This is vital to ensure the individual builds up their own reviewing record, and so that the journal editors preserve their right to choose reviewers.

Conflicts of Interest

The journal requires that all authors, reviewers and editors disclose any potential sources of conflict of interest. Any interest or relationship, financial or otherwise, that might be perceived as influencing objectivity is considered a potential source of conflict of interest. Potential sources of conflict of interest include but are not limited to:

  • patent or stock ownership.
  • membership of a company board of directors.
  • membership of an advisory board or committee for a company.
  • consultancy for or receipt of speaker’s fees from a company.
  • having recently collaborated with, supervised, been mentored by any of the authors of the manuscript you have been asked to review or edit.
  • Have a close personal relationship with any of the authors of a manuscript you have been asked to review or edit.

The existence of a conflict of interest does not preclude publication in this journal. However authors must declare any conflict of interest on submission and in the acknowledgements section of the manuscript.

If the authors have no conflict of interest to declare, they must also state this at submission.  It is the responsibility of the corresponding author to review this policy with all authors and to collectively list in the online submission system and in the manuscript Acknowledgments section ALL pertinent commercial and other relationships.

Reviewers or editors who have a conflict of interest they feel will make them unable to provide an unbiased assessment of a manuscript should decline to review/edit it. Any conflict of interest from a reviewer or editor should be declared to the editorial office.

Back to top

Data Archiving

Data are important products of the scientific enterprise, and they should be preserved and usable for decades in the future. The British Ecological Society thus requires, as a condition for publication, that all data supporting the results in papers published in its journals are archived in an appropriate public archive offering open access and guaranteed preservation. For theoretical papers the underlying model code must be archived.

The data underlying all the results presented in the paper must be archived in a format that allows a third party to interpret the data. The archived data must allow each result in the published paper to be recreated and the analyses reported in the paper to be replicated in full to support the conclusions made.  Authors are welcome to archive more than this, but not less.

Authors may elect to have the data made publicly available at time of publication or, if the technology of the archive allows, may opt to embargo access to the data for a period of up to a year after publication. Exceptions, including longer embargoes, may be granted only in exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the editor, especially for sensitive information such as confidential social data or the location of endangered species.

All papers must have a data archiving statement and data sources must be cited in the reference list.

More details on this policy including examples of suitable repositories and a list of frequently asked questions can be found here.

Citations to data sources

We strongly encourage authors of articles that use data from multiple published sources (e.g. systematic reviews and meta-analyses) to cite these data sources in the main text of their article, not in supporting information, so that data owners are given appropriate credit.

Citation of datasets without a DOI is permitted, provided the data repository meets the standards set out in our Data Archiving policy.

Back to top


All authors listed on submissions to BES journals should meet the following criteria. Equally, individuals meeting these criteria should not be omitted from the list of authors.

  • substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data, or drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content;

  • final approval of the version to be published;

  • agreement to be accountable for the aspects of the work that they conducted and ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of their work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Acquisition of funding, provision of facilities, or supervising the research group of authors without additional contribution are not usually sufficient justifications for authorship.

Submissions with more than one author must include an Author Contributions statement explaining the contribution of each author. We suggest the following format:

AB and CD conceived the ideas and designed methodology; CD and EF collected the data; EF and GH analysed the data; AB and CD led the writing of the manuscript. All authors contributed critically to the drafts and gave final approval for publication.

Back to top

Research Ethics

Animal research

Researchers must have proper regard for conservation and animal welfare considerations. Any research using animals must adhere to institutional, national and/or international guidelines. Where appropriate and available, approval from the appropriate animal ethics committee should be obtained before work commences. More information can be found in the 'Guidelines for the Treatment of Animals in Behavioural Research and Teaching', the ARRIVE guidelines and the Basel Declaration.

Field research on animals must also adhere to institutional, national and/or international guidelines and appropriate licences and/or permissions should be obtained before work commences.

Plant research

Experimental plant research must adhere to institutional, national and/or international guidelines. Field research must also adhere to institutional, national and/or international guidelines and appropriate licences and/or permissions should be obtained before work commences.

Back to top

Publication Ethics

Duplicate submission/publication

Any manuscript that has been submitted or published in a scientific journal, book or similar entity, in whole or in part, will not be considered for publication. Any potential overlap with a published or submitted work should be declared to the editorial office on submission.

We will consider manuscripts which have previously been posted on personal websites or preprint servers such as ArXiv, BiorXiv and PeerJ PrePrints providing that upon acceptance of their article for publication the author is still able to grant the BES an exclusive licence to publish the article (see below), or agree to the terms of an OnlineOpen agreement and pay the associated fee. Following submission and peer review organized by the journal, posting of revised versions of the article on a preprint server with a CC-BY licence might affect an author’s ability to sign an Exclusive Licence to publish in a BES journal.

It is the responsibility of authors to inform the journal at the time of submission if and where their article has been previously posted and, if the manuscript is accepted for publication in a BES journal authors are required to provide a link to the final manuscript alongside the original preprint version.

We will also consider material previously published in an author's academic thesis for publication in BES journals.


The BES journals are members of COPE (the Committee on Publication Ethics) and will follow the principles and recommendations of COPE in the event of any alleged research or publication misconduct, including plagiarism or fabrication or falsification of results. Where necessary retractions, corrections or expressions of concern will be issued in order to maintain the integrity of the publication record.

Back to top

Licence to Publish and Open Access

We support Open Access and all five BES journals are hybrid subscription/open access journals. Authors are required to grant our publisher Wiley an Exclusive Licence Agreement to publish their article on behalf of the British Ecological Society. Alternatively authors who wish to make their article freely available without subscription can use Wiley’s OnlineOpen service to make their article Open Access.

Exclusive Licence to Publish

Signing an Exclusive Licence Agreement (ELA) is a condition of publication and papers will not be published until a signed form is received. (Papers subject to government or Crown copyright are exempt from this requirement.) Once a paper is accepted, the corresponding author will receive an email from Wiley prompting them to login to Author Services, where, via the Wiley Author Licencing Service (WALS), they will be able to complete the licence agreement on behalf of all co-authors. Please note that the article may appear on Accepted articles (see above) before the licence agreement is completed. The terms and conditions of the ELA can be previewed in the samples associated with the Copyright FAQs here. Do not complete this PDF until you are prompted to do so by Author Services. Please read the licence form carefully before signing: conditions are changed from time to time and may not be the same as the last time you completed one of these forms.

Funder arrangements: A number of funders, including Research Councils UK (RCUK), the NIH and Wellcome Trust, require deposit of the accepted (post-peer-reviewed) version of articles that they fund, if these are not already published via an open access route. The BES journals are all compliant with these mandates and full details of the arrangements can be found here.

Please note that signature of the Exclusive Licence Agreement does not affect ownership of copyright for the material. The copyright statement for all authors will read:

© [date] The Author(s).
Journal compilation © [date] British Ecological Society.

Open Access

OnlineOpen is available to authors who wish to make their article available to non-subscribers on publication, or whose funding agency requires grantees to archive the final version of their article. With OnlineOpen, the author, the author's funding agency, or the author's institution pays a fee to ensure that the article is made available to non-subscribers upon publication via Wiley Online Library, as well as deposited in the funding agency's preferred archive. The charge for OnlineOpen publication is $3,000 (discounted to $2,250 for papers where the first or corresponding author is a current member of the British Ecological Society, www.britishecologicalsociety.org). See the full list of terms and conditions here.

Following acceptance, any authors wishing to designate their paper OnlineOpen will be given the option of signing a range of different Creative Commons licences, depending on author choice and funder mandate.

Prior to acceptance there is no requirement to inform the Journal that you intend to publish your paper OnlineOpen.

Back to top

Submission Guidelines

For information on how to submit to each of our journals please visit the journals’ author guidelines:

Ecology in China Virtual Issue


The Peer Review Process

Stay Connected