Editorial policies

Editorial process

The Journal of Biological Chemistry welcomes high-quality science across the broad scope of biological chemistry. The editor-in-chief, associate editors and editorial board members, along with any external referees, are responsible for creating and upholding editorial policies under the general authority of the ASBMB Publications Committee and ASBMB Council. These policies in turn are used to inform decisions regarding the suitability of manuscripts for publication.

Submitted manuscripts are assigned by the editor-in-chief, deputy editor or co-editor to an associate editor, who may decline the manuscript without review if they judge it does not provide a sufficient advance, is topically inappropriate, does not meet journal data quality standards, or is otherwise poorly suited for eventual publication at JBC. This practice is meant to expedite resubmission to a more appropriate journal. In most cases, the associate editor sends the paper out to review, typically to two members of the editorial board. External referees are consulted when additional expertise is required. During initial submission, prospective authors are encouraged to recommend one or more associate editors who would be particularly appropriate to handle their manuscript, and are also given an opportunity to suggest (and exclude) potential referees with the expertise needed to evaluate the manuscript. The reviewers make a recommendation for acceptance, revision or declination based upon the scientific merit and technical quality of the studies reported; to be published, manuscripts must not only be judged as technically sound, but as reporting novel and scientifically important results suitable for the journal’s broad readership. Authors are given 120 days to complete any revisions; if additional time is needed to complete experiments for a revised manuscript, authors may request an extension from the Associate Editor handling their manuscript. For more on JBC’s scope, click here. Accepted manuscripts are subject to publication charges; more information can be found here.

JBC aims to provide authors with constructive, fair and timely feedback. The journal uses single-blind peer review: identities of referees remain unknown to the authors and each other. The editors and referees treat each manuscript as privileged information, and they are instructed to exclude themselves from review of any manuscript that might involve a conflict of interest or the appearance thereof.

Papers in Press and open access information

Formal publication of a manuscript at JBC occurs when the accepted author version of the manuscript appears online as a Paper in Press, typically within 24 hours of acceptance; these versions remain freely accessible on the JBC site in perpetuity. The final versions of papers are published in weekly issues once redaction (including copyediting, layout, tagging, etc.) is complete.

Upon formal publication, JBC automatically deposits the accepted author versions of manuscripts into PubMed, which usually takes a few days to update. Upon publication of the weekly issue, JBC automatically deposits the final full text and PDF files of the redacted versions of all articles into PubMed Central, which is usually updated within a week or so (find the full JBC PubMed Central archive here), There is no fee and no action needed on the part of authors for these deposits. NIH-funded authors should note that this step fulfills NIH mandates. Articles in PubMed Central are subject to the same 12-month embargo as the articles on jbc.org, unless they are among the set of articles JBC freely releases or they are among the articles that the authors chose to publish using the Author’s Choice option. In this case, the final version of the manuscript will be freely available at jbc.org and at PubMed Central with no embargo, and will be covered under the Creative Commons Attribution license (click here for more details), thus meeting the needs of some funders such as Wellcome Trust and RCUK.

Access to unique materials

Authors of papers published in JBC are obligated to honor any reasonable request by qualified investigators for unique propagative materials, such as cell lines, hybridomas, DNA clones and organisms that are described in the paper. If computer software programs are developed and used in submitted manuscripts, the programs must be made available to the reviewer upon request. The source code or the program must be made available, either commercially or in downloadable form from the authors, if the manuscript is accepted for publication. The editors may deny further publication rights in the journal to authors unwilling to abide by these principles.

Ethics policy

As a condition of publication, all authors must grant the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Inc. license to publish their work as described above (new policy, effective January 1, 2018).

The submission of a manuscript having multiple authors constitutes a representation that all listed authors concur with the submission and approved the final version. Authors are expected to present experimental results accurately. Evidence or allegations of violations of the standard norms for publishing original research — such as publication without approval of all authors, plagiarism, republication of data used previously without acknowledgement, and inappropriate image manipulation — will be investigated.

By submitting a manuscript to the journal, the authors agree to abide by ASBMB's policy and procedures for handling questionable manuscripts, including procedures for notifying the authors’ current and former employers and/or funding bodies if found to be suspect after examination. Authors also agree to cooperate with any inquiry or investigation initiated by the journal, institution, regulatory agency, and/or funding body into an allegation of research misconduct involving a manuscript. If any investigative or reviewing body makes any finding with respect to a manuscript, each author is required to provide immediately the details of the findings and support. When an allegation of a suspected violation is received for a published article, ASBMB shall first contact the corresponding author and request an explanation or response. Authors are expected to maintain the original data from their manuscripts for a minimum of 6 years after the final publication date of their article, so authors may be required to provide the original data. If authors are unable to provide all the original data upon request, the editor may ask the authors to withdraw or correct the article or the publisher may retract the article. The editor will decide upon a course of action based on the material provided by the authors. When the editor and the authors cannot agree on a resolution or appropriate correction of the literature, the ASBMB Publications Committee will decide the appropriate resolution.

The following outcomes may occur in papers found to contain violations of these policies:

  • submitted manuscripts may be rejected without scientific review;
  • authors may be asked to withdraw an article after publication;
  • the publisher may retract the article;
  • sanctions may be imposed on the author(s);
  • and/or the matter may be referred to institutional officials and/or funding bodies.

Withdrawal/Retraction notices

Articles that have been withdrawn by the author or retracted by the publisher will be accompanied with a notice that provides a reason why the article has been withdrawn or retracted. The issues will not be characterized as an error nor will any statements regarding reproducibility be allowed. Statements may not assign blame to a specific author.

Data availability

JBC requires authors to agree to a Data Availability Statement with all submissions. The statement requires that authors must make all original data underlying the findings described in their manuscript fully available upon request by ASBMB. The original data of microscopy images, blots, gels, etc are defined as the unprocessed versions of the images used in the manuscript. Failure or refusal to provide these data upon request will be grounds for rejection if the manuscript is under review. If authors refuse or fail to provide requested data after publication, the authors may be asked to withdraw their article or the publisher may retract the article. Authors are expected to maintain all original data for a minimum of 6 years after the final publication date of their article.

Image manipulation

While certain modifications of primary data are often needed for clarity and/or brevity, image manipulation for deceptive purposes, to unfairly enhance or eliminate or otherwise obscure data, is misconduct and will be addressed as such.

For graphic material, we have adopted and modified the policy of The Journal of Cell Biology:

“No specific feature within an image may be enhanced, obscured, moved, removed, or introduced. The groupings of images from different parts of the same gel 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 every pixel in the image and as long as they do not obscure, eliminate, or misrepresent any information present in the original, including the background. Nonlinear adjustments (e.g., changes to gamma settings) must be disclosed in the figure legend.”

Additionally, any re-use of the same images in more than one panel or figure must be disclosed and justified. This applies equally to any protein, DNA, or RNA bands and/or microscopy images. Learn more at our Author Resources page.

Prior publication

Submitted manuscripts must describe original research not previously published and not under consideration for publication elsewhere. The following do not constitute prior or duplicate publication and will not preclude a manuscript from consideration:

  • an abstract
  • a poster
  • a thesis or dissertation that is not copyright protected
  • a presentation
  • a manuscript posted on a personal or institutional website
  • a manuscript posted in a recognized not-for-profit preprint archive provided that upon acceptance of the manuscript for publication, the author is still able to grant ASBMB exclusive license to publish their work or agree to the terms of an Open Access license and pay the associated fee. Authors whose manuscripts are posted in a not-for-profit preprint archive should include details in the cover letter about the archive and any archive manuscript identifiers such as a DOI. If the paper is accepted by the journal, the author should ask the not-for-profit preprint archive to acknowledge that the article has been published and include a reference and link to the published article and its DOI.

Conflicts of interest

The corresponding author is required to disclose any actual or perceived conflicts of interest on the part of any author when submitting a manuscript. Both authors and readers should understand that a declared conflict of interest is a neutral term that does not imply any unethical behavior; but instead serves to inform all parties about relationships that could affect scientific judgment. Potential conflicts of interest include affiliations, financial relationships, personal relationships, or funding sources that could be perceived as influencing an author’s objectivity regarding the manuscript content. Conflict of interest disclosures will be published in a footnote accompanying the article.

Authorship criteria

Adapted from the recommendation of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)

Authorship credit should be based on the following:

  1. substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
  2. drafting the article or substantively contributing to revisions in intellectual content;
  3. final approval of the version to be published;
  4. agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

All those designated as authors must meet all four criteria for authorship. Acquisition of funding or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship. It is expected that each author has made an important scientific contribution to the study and is thoroughly familiar with the original data. It is also expected that each author has read the complete manuscript and takes responsibility for its content and completeness. By accepting authorship, he/she understands that if the paper, or any part thereof, is found to be faulty or in violation of ethical standards, he/she shares responsibility with his/her coauthors. Assignment of each author’s contributions using the CRediT taxonomy is requested as part of the online submission process.

"Group authorship" is allowed in which the name of the consortium or program is listed as an author, with members of the group listed in the Acknowledgements section. All listed members must meet the full criteria and requirements for authorship as described.

The Editor-in-Chief maintains discretion to allow or disallow inclusion of authors who are deceased. To facilitate review in each case, the contributions of these authors should be described in detail in the manuscript cover letter and – as with all authors – within the online submission system.

ASBMB journals follow the ICJME recommendations for responsibilities of the corresponding author.

Last updated April 30, 2019